The following is a visitor-submitted question or story. For more, you can submit your own sleep story here, or browse the collection of experiences and questions other visitors have shared here.

My Daughter's Broken Breathing and Snoring

My six-year-old daughter generally sleeps well. She has a regular bedtime (8PM to 7AM) and has lots of energy during the day. However, she goes through periods in which she snores and seems to have broken breathing or holds her breath for a few seconds while she sleeps. She also regularly grinds her teeth. Even when she is not having these problems, she breathes heavily.

When she was four-years-old I took her to an ear, nose, and throat doctor who told me she had large adenoids but that they would stop growing and begin to disappear when she was around six or seven-years-old and did not recommend surgery. She suggested this could be the cause of her breathing problems at night.

Although these sleep problems don't seem to be making her tired during the day, we want to make sure she is healthy. What should we do?

Kevin: Thanks for writing in. Large adenoids or tonsils do indeed often contribute to sleep apnea in children, by making the airway smaller and easier to suck closed.

While she could soon grow out of it, as your doctor suggested, sleep apnea can also have developmental consequences in children because of the way it disrupts sleep. Typically, ending a period of halted breathing during sleep requires the sleeper to have a micro-awakening. Compounded over the night, this can fragment the sleep period pretty heavily, including non-REM slow wave sleep, when much of our growth hormones are released. It does typically result in daytime sleepiness though, which you suggest she is not experiencing. It still might be a good idea to consult a sleep disorder specialist and maybe even get her AHI (apnea/hypopnea index) measured to gauge the severity of her breathing issue.

The teeth grinding during the night is a sleep disorder known as bruxism, and the sleep doctor should be able to give you some advice on that as well. I think apneas can be a trigger for it. But if it's bad, the teeth should be protected, and your dentist might also be able to help with that by means of a mouth guard.


(Please keep in mind that I am a student of sleep science and not a medical doctor. Please take any thoughts I give with my background in mind.)

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Experiences With Sleep Disorders In Children.

Enjoy this page? Please help us pay it forward to others who would find it valuable by Liking, Sharing, Tweeting, Stumbling, and/or Voting below.

About This Site

Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

We made this site as a call to action for people all over the world to live healthier, happier, safer, and more productive lives by learning about their own sleep. We have faith that reading the information provided on this site will motivate you to be smart about your sleep deprivation and strategic about your alertness in order to live life to your fullest, most energetic potential.

In fact, we challenge you to do so! What do you say, are you up for the challenge?

A Note On Visitor-Submitted Questions:

Publishing sleep stories and questions from our visitors is meant to create a forum for open and proactive dialogue about an extremely important portion of our lives (one that occupies 1/3 of it and affects the other 2/3) that isn't talked about enough. It is not meant to substitute a trip to the doctor or the advice of a specialist. It's good to talk; it is not good to avoid consulting someone who's profession it is to help you with this kind of stuff.

If you are in any way concerned about your sleep health, don't wait for an answer on here, and don't necessarily rely on them. See a sleep specialist in your area as soon as possible.

More Questions:

Ask | Answer

The Stanford Sleep Book

Stanford Sleep Book Picture

Dr. Dement's pioneering textbook has been the core text for Sleep and Dreams since 1980, but it has just recently been made available to the wider public for the first time.

In it you'll find a more detailed account of the most important things you need to know about sleep, alertness, dreams, and sleep disorders. Studies, statistics, plus plenty of Dr. Dement's classic anecdotes painting the history of sleep medicine.

Preface | Intro | Contents | Get A Copy

More Sleep Resources

The Zeo

A revolution in personal sleep tracking, the Zeo is a wireless headband that transmits your brainwaves in realtime to a dock (pictured here) or your smartphone. The result? You can wake up and see exactly what stages of sleep you were in during the night! Unprecedented personalized sleep knowledge.

Sleep Paralysis: A Dreamer's Guide

Sleep Paralysis Treatment Book

Ever woken up paralyzed? A surprising number of us have, believe it or not. But few know the actual causes of this phenomenon, and fewer still how to exert control over it. Dream researcher and sleep paralysis expert Ryan Hurd shares breakthrough insights into how to do just that.

Important Disclaimer

Please Note:

The information found on this page and throughout this site is intended for general information purposes only. While it may prove useful and empowering, it is NOT intended as a substitute for the expertise and judgments of healthcare practitioners.

For more info, see our
Terms of Use.