How Sleep Helps Your Special Needs Child Learn and Grow
If your child suffers from jaw dysfunction, it can interfere with their sleep quality. Sleep is essential to proper growth and development. Kids need good quality sleep to consolidate memories, support healthy emotions, and recharge their bodies. Although jaw dysfunction can be problematic for sleep in children and adults, addressing bite issues can help them sleep better. Treatment of TMJ can even support the calming of ADD and OCD symptoms.
TMD or temporomandibular joint disorder (also called TMJ) occurs when a person’s jaw joint is not in the proper position. It can typically cause the jaw to make clicking or popping sounds. TMD can all lead to grinding, especially at night while sleeping, discomfort and pain, or severe headaches. However, in many cases, there are no visible signs of this condition. Naturally, if a person is grinding their teeth painfully at night, it will have a detrimental effect on sleep quality.
How Jaw Dysfunction Affects Sleep
For many people with painful temporomandibular disorder (TMD), sleep quality is a problem. A study of TMD patients found that sleep quality was significantly impaired in TMD patients with dysfunctional pain. In fact, more than 60 percent of TMD patients have poor sleep quality.
Sleep apnea is becoming a more widespread problem in children, This is due to a dramatic increase in the prevalence and severity of obesity in children and adolescents. Treatment options for sleep apnea in childhood include CPAP therapy and TMJ surgery. CPAP therapy involves the use of a variety of devices to help a person to breathe regularly all night. Typically, an oral or maxillofacial specialist will handle TMJ surgery. You might go to a prosthodontist (an expert in dental prosthetics) or an otolaryngologist, an ENT (ears, nose, throat) specialist.
Why Kids Can’t Live Without Sleep
Sleep offers your child time to rest and recharge. Sleep is when children consolidate memories and new things they’ve learned, regulate hunger hormones, and restore their bodies. When children get enough sleep, their emotions are well supported. At the same, the sleep they do get needs to be quality sleep, including plenty of REM sleep. If all they manage is light sleep that is easily disturbed, this is not going to help.
When kids don’t get enough sleep, they may struggle with bad moods and find it difficult to concentrate. They’re at a greater risk of weight gain, trouble in school, accidents, and poor decisions. You may find them sneaking unhealthy snacks full of sugar during the day in an attempt to stay awake. Of course, this depends on their age and abilities.
How Treatment Helps TMJ, Sleep, ADD, and OCD
Children with bite issues may have trouble sleeping because this can cause blocking of the airways. Treatment for bite issues can open airways, support cranial bones, and make more room for kids’ tongues. This can help them sleep better.
With better sleep comes better emotional regulation, energy, and concentration. In this way, better sleep can help calm symptoms of ADD and OCD. It is amazing what a good refreshing night’s sleep can do, not just for those with ADD/ADHD/OCD, but for everyone.
Supporting Healthy Sleep for Your Child
Kids can’t live without sleep, so supporting good sleep is essential for your child’s health and well-being. Good sleep habits, clinical treatment, and lifestyle changes can offer relief for sleep struggles in children.
Treatment for jaw disorders is important for the management of pain and improvement of sleep issues. With treatment, children can sleep better because the right treatment will open their airways and there’s more room for their tongues. The better your child can breathe at night while they are sleeping, the more quality sleep they’re likely to get.
Healthy sleep habits can make it easier for children to sleep well. One of the most important habits is keeping kids on a regular sleep schedule. Next, you need to follow a consistent bedtime routine each night with them. Routines tend to build good habits and give your child something they can count on before they go to bed. This can be as simple as keeping to the same pre-bedtime routine including brushing their teeth and washing their face. Or for younger children, it could be reading them a bedtime story.
You should never allow children to have electronics in their bedroom, including late-night television. These tend to create a distraction, even if you turn them off, that will stop your child from going to sleep. The best sleep environment for children is a quiet, dark, cool, and comfortable. If necessary, you can put a dim night light in their room.
Children with jaw disorders may struggle with pain and sleep. The good news is that the right treatment can offer a solution for both. Support healthy child sleep with TMJ therapy and healthy sleep habits. Make sure to consult your child’s physician if your child’s inability to sleep is interfering with their quality of life. You might also consider changing their diet with expert help or even personal training in order to foster independence and aid their overall health.
About Sara Westgreen
Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She sleeps on a king-size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.
Tuck.Com dedicates their entire site to all things sleep-related. You can read dozens of product reviews and buyers guides. More importantly, the site has countless articles on sleep disorders and sleep health. Their goal is to “be your one-stop-shop for everything sleep.” You find information here that might help fill in any blanks in helping your special needs child get better sleep.
Special Strong provides fitness and nutrition for special needs children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other disabilities. Through our online training platform, we also provide special needs fitness certification courses for personal trainers and service providers who want to work autism and other disabilities.