Search icon

Children's health

28th Mar 2022

Does your child sleep with their mouth open? Here’s what you need to know

Trine Jensen-Burke

child sleeping with mouth open

Most of us will be familiar with the feeling of having to breathe through our mouths when we have a cold and a stuffy nose.

It is tiresome and often doesn’t feel like we are getting enough air or getting to breathe deeply enough for the oxygen to do its job properly.

However, this is usually temporary and will go away, and we’ll return to normal breathing soon enough.

But – for people who sleep with their mouth open, nose breathing can disturb sleep – and eventually become a real health problem. And did you know, it’s not only a problem for adults?

Sleeping with their mouth open can affect both the quantity and quality of children’s sleep and when this persists, it can become rather serious.

Unfortunately, sleep disorders are often left undiagnosed for a long time in children, and can lead to a whole variety of problems. In fact, behavioural issues, health issues, dental issues, and feeding issues can all be attributed to sleep disorders, new research shows.

Taking to Facebook, mum-of-one, Melody Yazdani, explained that her son, Kian, 8, had a sleep disorder that stemmed from sleeping with his mouth open. And yet, she reveals, it took years of stress and misdiagnoses as she tried to find out what was wrong with her boy, and what was the reason behind his troubling behavioural and health issues.

Yazdani explains how her son suddenly developed a whole slew of worrying symptoms. Teachers in the school reported he was having trouble keeping his body still. He got in trouble for pushing other kids and was having angry outbursts.

Yazdani says he was also having anger issues at home, and was going through a phase of being extremely picky with what he would and would not eat.

Several misdiagnoses by doctors solved nothing, but eventually, Kian’s dentist noticed that he was grinding his teeth, and this, Yazdani explains, turned out to be her ‘lightbulb’ moment.

“I stumbled upon an article that changed our life,” Yazdani writes. “The article […] was about the connection between ADHD, sleep disordered breathing, and mouth breathing. Every word in this article sounded like Kian. This led me down a rabbit hole of research.”

After reading up on the matter, and consulting with an ENT, Yazdani learned that many of her son’s symptoms were a result of an undiagnosed sleep disorder. And Kian’s symptoms – including the open mouthed breathing you see in the pic she shared – were actually caused by the sleep apnea (as well as a case of sinusitis).

“Mouth breathing is NOT NORMAL and has long term consequences for health,” writes Yazdani.

“When a child breathes through their mouth, their brain (and body) is not getting enough oxygen. At night, this lowered oxygen saturation is detrimental to the quality of sleep and their brain’s ability to get enough rest.”

Speaking to, ENT doctor Thomas Coomb explains that one of the symptoms of sleep apnea is indeed open mouthed breathing.

“Sleep apnea occurs when tonsils, adenoids, soft palate and the tongue get in the way,” Coombe says.

“When that happens, it can cause Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome – or UARS.

Other symptoms of sleep apnea/UARS mirror many of Kian’s symptoms, and include:

– Snoring

– Teeth grinding

– A child who is hard to wake, and cranky in the morning

– Bed wetting

– Sleep walking

– Child sleeps awkwardly, often with chin up

– Picky eater, chokes on food, difficulty swallowing