Alanna McGinn: A Good Night's Sleep


How This Sleep Expert Got Help for Her Daughter's Sleep Issue

When a trip to an ENT and surgery may be the answer

Sleep Help For Young Children |

Over the summer we went on a road trip with the kids to Martha’s Vineyard. We had to stop overnight at a hotel where the five of us shared a room. I remember being woken up in the middle of the night by loud snoring and elbowing my husband to roll over and be quiet or he’ll wake the kids. I was shocked when he groggily told me that it wasn’t him snoring but our 4-year old daughter.

There she was in all her cuteness snoring away beside her big sister. I couldn’t believe how loud she was.

It was at that moment that the sleep consultant in me took over and I made an appointment at my doctors for when we returned home. The mom in me also took over and the guilt was riding high. How could I miss this with my own daughter? A question I always ask my parents before we start working together is if their baby or child snores or mouth breathes frequently. I mean how many parents have I referred out to their family doctors because their child frequently snores?

You may be asking why I ask this question to my parents and why my daughters snoring warranted a trip to the doctor. Is your child is showing these signs while they sleep?

  • Frequent snoring or mouth breathing (the most obvious sign.)
  • Constant sweatiness while sleeping.
  • Frequent restless sleep, from basic tossing and turning to as extreme as sleep walking.
  • Grogginess upon waking and throughout the day even after a full night of sleep.
  • Unexplained bedwetting.

It may be that their tonsils or adenoids may be the issue. If your child has enlarged tonsils and adenoids they may be unable to sleep restfully throughout the night because they are pausing in breath and consistently breaking up their natural sleep cycles throughout the night in order to catch their breath. Sleep Apnea does not discriminate and if your child does have larger tonsils and adenoids they are at a higher risk to develop Obstructive Sleep Apnea, one of the leading sleep-related disorders, affecting 2-3% of children according to the National Sleep Foundation. It’s important to know this information because while we can implement the perfect sleep plan for your child, if they have difficulty breathing at night, no matter what new sleep habits we try to create, your child could still have difficulty sleeping.

So how did I miss it? My daughter is an amazing sleeper. She has slept through the night since she was a baby. Restless sleep for her wasn’t an issue but once the possibility of her having Sleep Apnea came to light her other symptoms began to make sense. She was definitely snoring, and at 4-years of age she was still struggling with bedwetting, and even after having solid sleep throughout the night she would complain that she was tired and would even ask to go to bed at times. My Doctor took one look at her tonsils and adenoids and referred her to our local Ears, Nose, and Throat Doctor. Her son had just gone through the procedure himself.

When we met with our ENT she explained to us that our daughter should be scheduled to have an adenotonsillectomy, the surgical removal of both her adenoids and tonsils. Her tonsils alone where blocking over 85% of her airway and while there is the chance that as she grew her tonsils could shrink and her throat would get larger it was something that she still recommended to have done. Here is what she explained to me:

  • The myth is that an adenotonsillectomy should only be performed on children who are more prone to strep throat and ear infections. My daughter never had either so of course I was questioning that. She explained that the main reason to have this procedure done is due to the quality of sleep the child is getting. While my daughter was sleeping throughout the night the quality of sleep she was getting wasn’t ideal. She was struggling to breathe better and because of that she wasn’t getting the proper restorative sleep her little body needed to thrive. The sleep consultant in me understood and agreed with that logic. The mom in me still had questions.
  • But her kindergarten teachers never mentioned to me that she appeared drowsy or tired throughout the day. Our daughter wasn’t falling asleep in class. She explained that typically daytime sleepiness symptoms of pediatric Sleep Apnea are missed until the child enters grade school. During preschool and kindergarten many children are involved in play-based learning and the child is never sitting still long enough to begin to display tired signs. It’s not until the child enters grade 1, and is now sitting at a desk most of the day, where the daytime grogginess begins to show. Many of her patients are from the ages of 6 and up because of this.
  • The fact that unlike her twin brother my daughter is still struggling with bedwetting could be due to her sleep quality throughout the night. Her brain is working so hard to take in oxygen throughout the night it has a hard time controlling its other bodily functions like her bladder control. While bedwetting alone isn’t a reason for an adenotonsillectomy, often when one is performed it can help diminish bedwetting as well. My almost five year old was still in diapers throughout the night and not because we weren’t trying to remove them.

So her appointment is booked and in just a few weeks my 4-year old daughter is going to have her tonsils and adenoids removed. I’m looking forward to us being on the other side of the procedure and for my rock-star sleeper to finally be able to get the quality of sleep that I know her little body needs.

If your child is showing these symptoms it’s worth a trip to your Doctors office to see if they want to refer you to your local ENT. I always advise my clients to take a short video of your child sleeping to show your child snoring or mouth breathing. It will help your Doctor better understand the situation and to see if a referral to an ENT is necessary.

I provide free child and family sleep support on my Facebook page. I invite you to join our sleep community as I work towards Good Night Sleep Site's mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips please visit Good Night Sleep Site and visit me on Instagram and Twitter. Join our movement and #BringBackBedtime.

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