Children who snore or suffer sleep apnoea are between 40% and 100% more likely to have behavioural problems by the age of 7, says a new study, the BBC reports.
Dr Karen Bonuck, who lead the study of 11,000 UK children, described sleep problems as harmful to the developing brain.
The study, published in US journal Pediatrics, used data from parents who monitored their children’s sleep patterns and resulting behaviour over seven years. The results suggested that snoring and sleep apnoea (obstructed breathing during sleep) are directly linked to “neurobehavioural problems”. Often, enlarged tonsils or adenoids are the cause of these breathing issues during sleep.
A reduced supply of oxygen to the brain, an imbalance of chemicals and a breakdown in the restorative process of uninterrupted sleep were all seen to affect behaviour. In adults this can manifest as severe tiredness, but with children, it appears to be hyperactivity.
Marianne Davey, from the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Society, claimed poor sleep is an “under-recognised reason for poor behaviour.” Marianne believes conditions like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) shouldn’t always be treated with drugs. “If the sleep problem is addressed, the behaviour will improve almost immediately, said Marianne.”