We all like to think of our kids as semi-perfect little beings, and that we can control their development and maturation to some degree. It's a well-documented fact, for example, that if we don't teach them how to eat well and engage in physical activity, they can grow up overweight, obese or experience diabetes in some cases.
But what about other, less-obvious habits that could be "programmed" in a child early on and which surface much later in life? In particular, can an adult's snoring be traced back to childhood?
I just read about a new study out of Britain that offers some interesting clues into why some kids are more likely to develop into adult snorers. According to the research, a kid with respiratory problems could be a precursor for snoring as an adult. I assume "respiratory problems" could be anything from allergies, exposure to animals that cause respiratory issues, or ear infections. This type of research is just in its infancy, but I hope more emerges to help us define the risk factors that may cause some children to become snorers in later life.
As the article points out, snoring is not just a nuisance. It can signal more serious problems like sleep apnea, which cuts off a person's breathing momentarily during the night.
It would be wonderful if we can help prevent snoring in the first place by taking into consideration risk factors experienced during childhood. Not that we need to add one more item on the list of things to worry about when it comes to our kids.
But I think the overall lesson here is clear: much of how well we live as adults can be linked to what happened during our tender years. We may someday discover that the blueprints of our adult lives are clearly written out by the time we're 25 or so. From our brain chemistry and moods to our ability to fight fat and get a good night's sleep...you have to wonder, how much of our adult lives are chained to the past?
Something to think about. I'm a big believer in the ability to change and modify habits to support a healthier lifestyle, but as parents and role models for kids I think it's important to bear this in mind.
Questions to consider in light of this new study:
• How well do your kids sleep? Do you even know the answer to this question?
• Are they overweight or do they already snore?
• If you have a child who suffers from respiratory problems, have you ever discussed this with the pediatrician? Has your child been tested for sleep apnea?
• Do YOU have trouble sleeping, or do you suffer from chronic snoring?
• Have you ever discussed the value of a good night's sleep with your kids?
In this next generation, may we find more restful, quiet nights.
Follow Dr. Michael J. Breus on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thesleepdoctor