Tag Archives: sleep disturbance in children

Snoring in Children



As uncommon and abnormal as it may seem, snoring in babies is not always a red flag for your baby’s health. Many babies produce noises like whiffing, snuffing and snoring while sleeping. If your baby snores rarely or occasionally, then it’s not a cause of concern. But if it has become a chronic habit of your little angel to snore, then consulting your Pediatrician is always advisable.

But before you start panicking, let’s understand the causes of snoring in babies.

Causes of Snoring in Babies

  • Cold and flu infections: This is the most common cause of snoring in babies. As your baby’s airways are very small and narrow when they are few months old, mucous secretions during a cold or flu infection easily block her nose and throat. As a result, your baby may snore while she is suffering from cold or throat infections.
  • Allergies: Your baby may be allergic to down filling in the mattress or pillows or allergic to pet hairs if you have a dog or cat. This may obstruct the airways of your baby while she sleeps and become the cause of snoring.
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids: Adenoids are lymph nodes at the junction of nose and throat which may enlarge due to various infections. Similarly, tonsils are lumpy lymph tissues located at the back of throat, which can also enlarge due to repetitive infections. Although the rate in newborn babies, with time these can contribute to obstruction in breathing which can in turn cause snoring.
  • Deviated Nasal Septum: Nasal septum is the bone that separates both the nostrils and in case of a deviated septum, this bone may be structurally misaligned obstructing one of the nostrils. This could be a cause of chronic snoring in your baby.
  • Laryngomalacia: In very young babies, the cartilage that keeps the nasal airways open may remain underdeveloped for some time after birth. As a result, your newborn may snore frequently until this cartilage develops properly.
  • Throat abnormalities: Cystic formations in the throat or abnormal palate movement can also cause snoring in babies.
  • Sleep Apnea: This is a condition wherein your baby experiences obstruction in breathing for several seconds, causing lack of oxygen and acute breathlessness. This may happen multiple times during sleep and can cause loud snoring in your baby.

How to correct snoring in your baby?

Once you have identified the cause of snoring in your baby, in consultation with her pediatrician, you can start with the corrective measures to alleviate your baby’s snoring.

You can take the following steps to correct snoring:

If your baby is suffering from cold, flu or allergies; use a humidifier in your baby’s room and put saline nasal drops in your baby’s nose to help her breathe better while sleeping.

Also remove any allergens or allergy-causing agents from your baby’s room to avoid any breathing obstructions.

Change your baby’s position or put a pillow under her head when she’s asleep to help keep her airways open.

If your baby is suffering from sleep apnea, enlarged adenoids and tonsils may be responsible. You can either reduce this enlargement with medicines or can even get them surgically removed once your baby is a little older.

Throat abnormalities and deviated nasal septum can only be corrected surgically and you should consult your Pediatrician/ ENT specialist for complete corrective action.

Thus, if your little one snores, the next time she dozes off, rest assured that it’s nothing to worry about. With proper care and as she grows, this problem can be easily resolved.



Dr Rahul Varma

Your child keep waking up at night; looks frightened and crying: It could be night terror


Occasional Nightmare; most of us had nightmares when we were young or even today sometimes. Most of us have comforted our children for that too. But Night Terror (or Sleep terror) is something more than that.

Night Terror as the name suggests is more fearful and challenging than nightmare. Any parent whose child has experienced it, knows that it is inconsolable fear, no matter what you try.

Night terror has more alarming or dramatic presentation. It is also a type of sleep disruption similar to nightmare. It usually is not a sign of serious medical issues or neurological dysfunction.

Normal sleep cycle has several stages; most important are 2 phase:

  • Rapid eye movement (REM) stage where most of the dreams occur.
  • Non- REM stage: night terror occur during deep non-REM sleep

Technically speaking Night terrors are not dreams. They are rather a sudden reaction of fear that happens during transition from one phase of sleep to another.

 campare NT VS NM

It occur about 2- 3 hours after child goes to sleep. It is the time when child is moving smoothly from non-REM sleep to REM sleep. But sometimes during this transition, child becomes very frightened and agitated and that fear reaction is labeled as night terror.

How the scenario looks like during Night Terror?

Child might suddenly sit up in bed or starts to scream / shout. Child’s Heartbeat and breathing is much faster than normal, he/she might start to sweat a lot, looks scared and horrified. At that time no matter what you try child will not settle down. But after few minutes child will return back to sleep and calm down.

Kids will not remember anything when they wake up in the morning (unlike nightmare where kids remember most of the dream or something).

 night terror

What Causes Night Terrors?

Night terrors are caused by over-arousal of the central nervous system (CNS) during sleep. It can happen as the brain is still maturing in young kids. Some genetic factor could be there as in more than 80% of cases one of the family member might have experience some form of sleep disturbance (i.e sleep walking or night terror etc).

Night terrors are more commonly seen in children:

  • Who are in some form of stress or ill
  • Who are fatigued or overtired
  • Who are sleeping away from home or in new environment
  • Who have just started taking some new medication

Incidence:  3- 6% of young children may have night terror (whereas almost every kid has a nightmare once in a while). More common in boys

Age: 4- 12 years (but has been reported in kids as young as 18 months).

Prognosis:  They disappear on their own once the nervous system of brain matures. Some children might have only one episode whereas some have multiple episodes before they stop.


Toddler Girl closing her eyes in the bed, perhaps she is seeing bad dreams.

How to Cope With Night Terrors as parents?

  • Keep calm: It can be very upsetting for parents, as they start feeling guilty sometimes as they are not able to comfort or calm their kid during episode of night terror.
  • Be patient and wait it out. Child will settle down in few minutes and will go back to sleep on their own.
  • Provide safe environment for child during might terror (so that child doesn’t hurt himself or others during the episode).
  • Do not try to wake up child: It does not help, it can make things worse; once they has woken up , he/she will be disoriented and confused and may take longer to settle down and go back to sleep.


No treatment for night terrors is available, but we can help prevent them by following these steps.

  • Have a good bedtime routine (try to stick to it during non school days too)
  • Try to reduce your child’s stress
  • Bedtime routine should be simple and relaxing like reading story books, dim light etc
  • Make sure your child gets enough rest
  • Prevent your child from becoming overtired by staying up too late

Understanding night terrors can reduce your worry — and help you get a good night’s sleep yourself.

But if night terrors happen repeatedly, talk to your child doctor, if needed a referral to a sleep specialist can be taken (Besides we need to rule out other brain abnormality).


Dr Rahul Varma