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Sleep Disordered Breathing


Sleep disordered breathing and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea refer a group of breathing abnormalities which occur during sleep. The abnormalities included in this group include:

  • Snoring
  • Mouth Breathing
  • Pauses in breathing

Patients with sleep disordered breathing also may have some of the following symptoms:

  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Poor concentration
  • Inattention
  • Hyperactivity
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bed wetting

Sleep disordered breathing is a spectrum of disease with children at one end having snoring and children at the other end having significant obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).


The best way to work out if your child has sleep disordered breathing is to watch them sleep. Wait until they have been asleep for at least 30min and then have a look at how they are sleeping. Features which you should look out for include:

  • Snoring
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Excessively restless during sleep

Take a video recording of your child sleeping and bring it to the consultation with Dr Dan Robinson. Other features which are also associated with sleep disordered breathing include bed wetting and night terrors.

Cause of sleep disordered breathing

Patients with sleep disordered breathing have partial or complete upper airway obstruction during their sleep. This obstruction results in a disruption in normal ventilation and sleep for the child. The obstruction causes snoring and the lack of oxygen causes the other symptoms associated with sleep disordered breathing.

The most common cause of sleep disordered breathing is tonsil and or adenoid enlargement. There are other causes of sleep disordered breathing but these are rare.

Behavioural changes in sleep disordered breathing

It is very common for the behavior of your child to change / be adversely affected when they have sleep disordered breathing. Essentially your child is tired all of the time. As adults we know that if you are tired you are not functioning at your best. In children they may have some of the following behavior:

  • Increased aggression
  • Overly hyperactive
  • Symptoms similar to ADHD
  • Night terrors
  • Wet the bed – up to 50% of children with sleep disordered breathing wet the bed
  • Poor memory
  • Poor attention
  • Poor performance at school


If your child has sleep disordered breathing then it is recommended that they have an adenotonsillectomy. Removing the tonsils and adenoids is effective in the vast majority of cases in improving the sleep disordered breathing. If your child has obstructive sleep apnoea then it is highly recommended that they have an adenotonsillectomy. Some of the changes you may see after adenotonsillectomy include:

  • Increased quality of life for your child
  • Improvement in sleep disordered breathing
  • Improvement in behavioral parameters
  • Improved school performance
  • Reduction in bed wetting

If you think your child has sleep disordered breathing, then make an appointment to see Dr Robinson and if possible take a video of your child sleeping.