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Does snoring affect your brain and general behavior? Well, according to a new study, it does, at least for children and adolescents.

The study conducted by the University of Maryland School of Medicine concluded that snoring actually has some effect on the brain. The study aimed to check for structural changes in the brains of children with a history of snoring.

Thinning gray matter in the brain

Good sleep is important, especially for kids and adolescents. However, some children’s sleep is often disrupted by sleep disorders such as snoring. Researchers found that snoring affected the quality of the children’s sleep and their brain structures, and ultimately their behavior.

The researchers took 10,000 MRI scans of 9 and 10-year-old children under the ABCD ( Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development) study. The results showed that children who snored a minimum three times a week had a thinner gray matter in many parts of the brain’s frontal lobe. This area of the brain is responsible for impulse control and higher reasoning. A thin gray matter can therefore lead to behavioral disorders like breathing issues while asleep.

Amah Isaiah, MD, Ph.D., the lead author of the study and an associate professor of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, believes that this is the biggest study relating snoring to brain abnormalities. He further says that abnormalities seen on these children are akin to those seen on children who suffer from deficit hyperactivity disorder. These children lose cognitive control, which can be later be linked to disruptive behavior.

Misdiagnosis of ADHD

Dr. Isaiah also notes that many children with sleeping disorders, who account for 10% of children in the US, are misdiagnosed. He says that if a child snores thrice or more a week, they should be checked out. This is after seeing that most kids with ADHD are prescribed stimulants, while some might have sleeping disorders that lead to the wearing out of gray matter in the brain.