Sleep Apnea In Kids


Kids can show different signs and symptoms of sleep-related breathing disorders compared to adults.

For example, the Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) threshold for adults to be diagnosed with sleep apnea is five events per hour. For kids, as few as one event per hour is generally a concern and may warrant treatment. In addition, kids can show drastically different signs of sleep disturbances compared to adults. The BEARS questionnaire is a simple, effective screening tool for many sleep disorders.

BEARS stands for:

B = Bedtime Issues

E = Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

A = Night Awakenings

R = Regularity and Duration of Sleep

S = Snoring

Sleep Apnea Symptoms in Children Video


During the night, a child with sleep apnea may:

  • Snore loudly and on a regular basis
  • Have pauses, gasps, and snorts and actually stop breathing.
  • The snorts or gasps may wake them and disrupt their sleep.
  • Be restless or sleep in abnormal positions with their head in unusual positions
  • Sweat heavily during sleep

During the day, a child with sleep apnea may:

  • Have behavioral, school, and social problems
  • Be difficult to wake up
  • Have headaches during the day, but especially in the morning
  • Be irritable, agitated, aggressive, and cranky
  • Be so sleepy during the day that they actually fall asleep or daydream
  • Speak with a nasal voice and breathe regularly through the mouth

See one family’s struggle to find answers.