I’m so glad we took our wee boy to the doctor over sleep problems – Hayley Matthews

Sleep apnoea does not just affect older adults with a big beer belly – it can also affect children, writes Hayley Matthews.

Hayley wants contentment for her snoring son
Hayley wants contentment for her snoring son

They say you never get two kids the same, and five months in I see what people are talking about. Let me break down how different our two boys are and it’s as simple as this: one of them sleeps and the other does not.

We always put this down to our first born being a “bad sleeper” but we’ve recently been given a reason and it is actually quite astonishing. Child sleep apnoea is our diagnosis.

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You might be thinking that sleep apnoea only happens in older adults who have a massive beer belly and snore like a trooper, but you’d wrong. Massive tonsils can be a cause of sleep apnoea as they obstruct breathing, causing snoring, sleep deprivation and all other sorts of unwanted ailments.

Now, I’m no doctor but being a mum of a seven-year-old who has rarely slept through the night, EVER, is really very hard. It’s difficult to know what to do, how to help and it’s something I reckon a lot of parents just put down to snoring.

We followed up our concerns with the doctor after reading an article on why kids should not sleep with their mouths open and I’m glad we did. A trip to the ENT at the Sick Kids holding a list of issues such as snoring, holding breath at night, frothing at the mouth, agitated mood, tearfulness, sore tummy, purple circles under the eyes and a million photos, meant we were given the go-ahead to get the tonsils out ASAP. My partner said to me before we went in: “If they don’t take his tonsils out then I will!”

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Dr Agada was incredibly supportive about our ­concerns that our seven-year-old who is living on the edge, looks tired and never wakes up well rested and recommended getting the tonsils out so that our son can have a better quality of life.

He is so tearful, tired and irrational and it’s all down to lack of sleep. It’s heartbreaking to see and we just want our little boy to be himself again so he can get back to being a happy wee chappy. A mum on Portobello beach recently overheard me talking about it to a friend and she mentioned how she’d been through a similar situation with her daughter, who then due to child sleep apnoea had her tonsils removed and said since the op she’s like a different child – much better rested, happier and more content.

We’re not looking forward to the operation. I had my tonsils out when I was four and remember it vividly. However, I’m looking forward to ­seeing the benefits that come with their removal.

My wee boy is clearly struggling and wouldn’t we all on only a few hours’ sleep a night? Apparently kids who breathe through their mouths aren’t getting as much oxygen to the brain and that’s where the sleep ­deprivation comes in because REM sleep is disrupted. It all sounds very technical but I have done my research and it seems more common that we first thought.

So forgive me for being smug that baby Oryn sleeps 12-plus hours a night without a peep and has been known to still be in bed with me at 11:30 on a Sunday morning grazing on a bit of side boob. I’m just hoping that his tonsils stay a reasonable size.

In all seriousness though, our kids need their sleep to be well rested for the challenges that life throws at them so if you have a snorer with tonsils the size of their feet then I’d be getting them checked out.