As it turns out, many people have misunderstood certain health signs in children for years.
For example, we often think of dark circles under a child’s eyes as a symptom of poor sleep, but they might actually be part of a cause of sleep disturbances, according to Walter Castro, MD, a pediatric pulmonologist and sleep specialist at Banner Children’s, part of nonprofit Banner Health, in a release.
“Those dark circles can sometimes be ‘allergic shiners’ caused by allergies,” Castro says. “Experts can determine this by examining the child’s nose for inflammation. This is one of several misunderstood aspects of sleep-related issues in children that parents are often surprised to learn.”
To help in wading through the confusion of myths and facts, here are five signs of poor sleep in children:
- Morning headaches. These can be a symptom of sleep apnea, caused by retention of carbon dioxide during sleep.
- Hyperactivity. While daytime sleepiness is an obvious sign of poor sleep, hyperactivity and a lack of impulse control can also result from a lack of good rest. Some signs commonly associated with ADHD may actually be sleep-related instead, though both issues can be connected.
- Inattentiveness, especially during the day. This can also lead to poor academic performance.
- Audible breathing during sleep. Breathing should be silent when resting, so any sounds from the mouth should be considered abnormal.
- Restless, fragmented sleep. Waking too much throughout the night or moving a lot during sleep can make it hard to get out of bed in the morning. (Not wanting to leave the bed is another sign a child’s rest isn’t helping them feel refreshed.)
“Consulting a sleep expert can be especially helpful and thorough because sleep medicine is the combination of four specialties: pulmonary (lungs), neurology (brain), psychiatry, and psychology,” says Castro, who treats patients at Banner Children’s Specialists Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine Clinics in Mesa and Glendale, Ariz.