The study involved 219 children with asthma. They were exposed regularly to tobacco smoke at home. Their sleep patterns were reported by their parents.
Exposure to tobacco smoke was tested by measuring the levels of “cotinine” in their blood. Cotinine is a chemical that the body makes from nicotine.
Results show that exposure to secondhand smoke was associated with increased sleep problems. The children took longer to fall asleep. Their sleep was more disturbed. And they were sleepier during the day.
It also was associated with sleep disordered breathing and parasomnias. Obstructive sleep apnea is a common sleep-related breathing problem in children. Types of parasomnias include nightmares, bedwetting, sleepwalking and sleep terrors.
The NCI reports that more than 4,000 chemicals have been identified in secondhand tobacco smoke. At least 250 are known to be harmful. And 50 of these are known to cause cancer. Living with a smoker increases a nonsmoker’s chances of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.
Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). They also have a higher risk of ear infections, colds, pneumonia, bronchitis and more severe asthma. Secondhand smoke may increase the risk of leukemia, lymphoma and brain tumors in children.
Read more about sleep and children.
Image by Raul Lieberwirth