In the past, people have tended to be fairly stoic about their health concerns. Men especially have learned to keep their health secret and try not to worry anyone with it.
But if you have sleep apnea, there are very good reasons to talk to your kids about it as soon as they get old enough to understand the main issues.
The Results Matter to Them
You may not know it, but your kids are probably as aware of your sleep apnea symptoms as you are. They know that you’re often too tired to play with them when you get home from work, or even on the weekends. They have probably noticed you dozing off in front of the TV or when trying to read. And they know that you’re often irritable or depressed. They may be blaming themselves.
Explaining your condition to your kids can help them understand that they’re not the reason why you’ve been acting the way you have. They can better understand that it’s not that you don’t want to play or enjoy other activities with them. They can understand that you’ve not meant to be so angry with them. And they’ll appreciate when these things change and you can enjoy happier times together.
Kids Need to Understand Your Treatment
If you have young kids that regularly find their way into your bedroom seeking comfort from thunder or nightmares, they may be in for an unpleasant surprise if you’re wearing your CPAP mask.
While this may keep the kids out of your bedroom more often, you don’t really want them to be afraid of you! Instead, show them the CPAP machine, explain how it works and what it does, and help them understand it’s nothing for them to be afraid of.
Even if you’re using an oral appliance, it’s good to show to your kids and explain its use. Otherwise, they may be more likely to get into it and treat it as a toy, which can be unsanitary and they may break or lose it.
They Can Help
It’s always good to have a spotter that can tell you if your CPAP has come off and your snoring has resumed. You may be able to trust your spouse for this, but if you’re a single parent (either full-time or just temporarily because of travel, etc.), your kids can play that important role.
Once they know that they should tell you if your snoring gets loud enough to wake them, they’ll be happy to do it.
They’ll Need to Watch out for Their Own Apnea
Sleep apnea isn’t entirely genetic, but if you are a snorer who has sleep apnea, then they’re more likely to develop it. Through a combination of genetic predisposition, developmental influences, and lifestyle lessons, your children have been set up to be more likely to have sleep apnea.
They may not develop the condition. With proper choices they may be able to avoid it. But it’s important that they know what to look for so they can get their sleep apnea diagnosed and treated sooner.
Currently, as much as 80% of people with sleep apnea are undiagnosed. But with proper education, perhaps the next generation will be better.
Get Your Apnea Treated for Your Children
Even if you aren’t swayed by arguments about the impact sleep apnea can have on your health and your life, then listen to the impact it has on your children. Not only does it make it harder for you to enjoy time with your children, it can cut that time off completely. Sleep apnea has stolen many fathers away too soon. Don’t let it take you away.