Behavior can be a fickle thing. It can change as a result of hormones or our health or based on how good of a day we’re having. But few people see as many mood swings or behavioral changes as a teenager. Because of the sometimes lack of stability in mood regulation, it can be hard to tell when something is off. Is something more seriously wrong with their health or is it a result of shifting hormones or drama at school?

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that can lead to serious health risks by causing your breathing to stop and start while you’re asleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common form of sleep apnea results when the muscles in the throat relax and restrict airflow causing sleep to be interrupted.

A disorder in a person’s breathing habits while they sleep can cause them to wake up frequently throughout the night and lose access to deep sleep cycles.

Sleep Apnea in teenagers

How Does Sleep Affect Behavior?

Sleep gives our bodies time to rest and recover from the day. Many of our bodies’ regulatory processes are rooted in phases of the sleep cycle. When we consistently go without a full night of uninterrupted sleep, we risk becoming sleep deprived. The effects of this trend can lead to irritability and other conditions such as:

  • Impulsivity
  • Hyperactivity
  • Attentional difficulties
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Aggression

Because many of these symptoms are already commonplace in a lot of teenagers going through puberty, it can be hard to determine if they’re a sign of something more harmful like sleep apnea. This challenge makes it even more important to be conscious of and aware of the potential for sleep breathing disorders like sleep apnea.

The Difference Between Sleep Apnea and Snoring

Sleep breathing disorders like sleep apnea might seem indiscernible from snoring but there are some ways to identify a larger problem.

Loudness: usually the louder the snoring, the greater the cause for concern. Snoring is never good since that sound is produced by the vibration of the soft tissue in the throat. This vibration leads to elongation of the tissue over time an makes it easier for it to close off the airway. Healthy breathing is quiet.
Frequency: if your child snores more than three times a week, even without other symptoms, it’s recommended that they receive an evaluation
Abnormal noises: sounds like gasping, snorting, and choking may demonstrate that your child has to work extra hard to breathe

Treat Sleep Apnea in Kansas City

For more information about potential treatment options for sleep breathing disorders, contact Dr. Raman at (816) 436-4422.