sleep-faqsDoes your child breath through his mouth more than his nose? It may seem like a harmless habit, but mouth breathing, snoring and sleep apnea (abnormal long pauses in breathing during sleep) can have a huge impact on health and attention.

Simply getting enough sleep can dramatically improve a child’s behavior and focus. But breathing through the mouth while sleeping allows the tongue to drop down from the roof of the mouth where it normally rests, to slide back into the throat and block the airway. This can cause snoring and sleep apnea which has been linked to behavioral issues, ADHD, cognitive development issues. Large tonsils are another cause of sleep apnea. Allergies can cause enlarged adenoids and tonsils, making it difficult to breath through the nose. The body prefers filtered, warmed, humidified air from the nose. Mouth breathing can increase congestion.

Prolonged mouth breathing actually tends to narrow the face, with narrows the sinuses, further increasing congestion and sinus issues. And mouth breathing leads to restless sleep. Kids who have been diagnosed with ADHD may be acting out to stay awake! Mouth breathing is most common between 2 and 6 years of age, but can start as early as the first year of life. 1 in 10 children snore regularly.

What can be done to help children breath through their nose?

Although surgery is thought of first in cases of enlarged tonsils, I find that most children can overcome snoring and mouth breathing with diet changes, osteopathic treatment and natural medicines. Osteopathic treatment helps facial development and supports sinus drainage and lymphatic drainage.

Nasal rinses like Xlear Nasal Spray made from saline and Xylitol, a natural sugar or (the stuff we have samples of) helps pull fluid from swollen tissues as well as washes away debris and mucous.

Karen Bonuck, PhD, the lead author for a study published in Pediatrics in June 2012 studied 11,000 children.