Can Teen Snoring Lead to Bad School Performance?

Teen snoring—it might seem cute or funny, but it can be a serious problem. Because of the snoring, your teen might have significant issues with behavior and school performance.

Teenage girl sleeping in bed
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How and Why

Snoring tends to happen when the flow of air out of the lungs and through the mouth and nose becomes disrupted. Sometimes snoring is harmless and doesn't cause any problems. Other times, snoring is a sign of a more serious issue with blockages in the airway. This more significant snoring can be called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and is sometimes called sleep-disordered breathing. OSA leads to being tired or sleepy during the day. Fatigue, in turn, can lead to problems with behavior and attention.

There are a few reasons that teens might snore to the point of having sleep-disordered breathing. One of the big culprits can be the tonsils or adenoids. If these become enlarged, they can interfere with the airflow through the throat, mouth, and nose. If your son or daughter has chronic tonsillitis, your teen could have problems with snoring. Cigarette smoking can increase rates of snoring. Being an obese teen can also increase your child's risk of snoring or obstructive sleep apnea. Other risk factors for sleep-disordered breathing are small jaw or small airway, alcohol intake before sleep, family history of sleep apnea, or a history of wheezing or cough.

School Performance

There is a good deal of research that suggests that snoring and sleep-disordered breathing can lead to behavior problems and problems with school performance.

It has been found that children who are sleepy during the day as a result of snoring have shorter spans and problems controlling their behaviors. These two issues can contribute to problems at home and at school. Some studies suggest that snoring that doesn't seem significant or isn't severe enough to be considered obstructive sleep apnea can cause problems, too. One study found that children with even “mild” snoring had problems with hyperactivity, attention, socializing and even had higher rates of anxiety and depression.

Studies that focus on snoring and school performance tend to agree that approximately 10% of children and teens are “habitual” snorers. A habitual snorer is someone who snores three or more times per week. Studies have shown that students who are considered habitual snorers perform worse in school than their non-snoring counterparts.

The good news is that if the snoring is corrected, the behavior problems and school problems can improve. Studies suggest that those who have been snoring because of enlarged tonsils or adenoids can get some relief with surgery.

It's hard to say if just being sleepy is enough to wreck your teen's school performance, or if it is the presence of significant snoring that makes the difference. One of the first things you can do is help your teen to get enough sleep. If your teen snores frequently, it is important to talk to your pediatrician about further evaluation and testing. Because snoring can affect more than just your teen's grades, it's important to take it seriously. Maybe then everyone can sleep easier!

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