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How Sleep Helps Your Special Needs Child

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, as kids need 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.

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 with 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.

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.

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.

How Treatment Helps TMJ, Sleep, ADD, and OCD

Children with bite issues may have trouble sleeping because airways can be blocked. Treatment for bite issues can open up 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.

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 their airways are opened up and there’s more room for their tongues.

Healthy sleep habits can make it easier for children to sleep well. Keep kids on a regular sleep schedule and follow a consistent bedtime routine each night with them. Don’t allow electronics in the bedroom or any kind of late night screen time, and make sure their sleep environment is quiet, dark, cool, and comfortable.

Children with jaw disorders may struggle with pain and sleep. But 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.

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.


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.

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