7 percent of children in orthodontic care are at high risk for sleep-disordered breathing

Sleep is a tightly regulated and well-organized biologic process that affects our daily functioning and our physical and mental health. According to the American Sleep Association, there are different stages of sleep, primarily separated into rapid eye movement sleep and non-rapid eye movement, which is additionally divided into 3 stages. Humans spend almost 50% of total sleep in the second stage of non-rapid eye movement and about 20% in rapid eye movement sleep. Deep and restorative sleep occurs in the third stage, whereas rapid eye movement sleep provides energy to the brain and supports daytime performance.

According to the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, children aged 6 to 12 years should sleep 9 to 12 hours, and teenagers aged 13 to 18 years should sleep 8 to 10 hours per night, for the body to fully recover and properly function. On average, nearly half of childhood is dedicated to sleep.3 However, for high school students in the United States, only 25% have reported sleeping 8 hours or more per night. The health effects of chronic sleep deficiency are immune suppression, cardiovascular disease, neurologic imbalances, compromised quality of life, and ultimately a shortened lifespan. Several factors can interfere with sound sleep, including sleep disordered breathing (SDB). SDB describes a group of disorders characterized by abnormal respiratory patterns such as apneas or hypopneas or insufficient ventilation during sleep. This complex group of disorders occurs during sleep and is described by extended periods of upper airway resistance (snoring) at 1 end of the spectrum and partial or complete airway obstruction at the other.

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