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University Hospital of Brooklyn at

Long Island College Hospital

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Mathew Ednick, DO
Assistant Professor, Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine
ABP-Certified in Sleep Medicine

The Downstate Diagnosis Archive

The Downstate Diagnosis:
ZZZ – As Important as ABC

I know how hard it is to get kids back on a structured sleep schedule after they've spent most of the summer outdoors. And we as parents know that kids need a lot of sleep – approximately, 10 hours for younger children, and eight hours for teens. What happens, though, when you've done all the right things – a routine, a schedule, quiet time before bed – and your child still can't sleep or can't sleep well? There are several well-known pediatric sleep disorders. Fortunately, we have excellent ways of diagnosing them and successful ways of treating them. If your son has trouble falling asleep, he will be irritable and moody, and his social life will suffer; if your daughter doesn't sleep well, she won't do well in school.

Let's look at what causes pediatric sleep disorders and what we can do about them together.

What types of pediatric sleep disorders are there?

Dyssomnias, which can include:

  • Difficulties falling asleep
  • Inability to stay asleep
  • Snoring
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Parasomnias, which can include:

  • Sleepwalking
  • Nightmares and night terrors
  • Rocking, head banging and other rhythmic activities while falling asleep or sleeping

Who treats pediatric sleep disorders?

Every investigation into a child's sleep should begin with a board certified Sleep Medicine Physician. Working with the child and the parents, we look at the many factors influencing sleep, such as everyday stress, obesity, genetics and the child's environment.

Should children participate in sleep studies?

A sleep physician may prescribe an overnight sleep study (called polysomnography) if obvious medical reasons for your child's sleep disorder have been ruled out. Only a sleep study can tell the difference, for example, between primary snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Fortunately, most children who snore do not have sleep apnea. Downstate's Sleep Disorders Center takes special care of kids. Our tastefully furnished sleep center has specially designed suites for kids as well as adults. They include a bed for the child plus a bed for the parent, as well a crib for infant or toddler evaluations. There are toys for the kids and a flat panel TV and DVD player to provide a comfortable, homey environment.

I think we owe it to our kids to make sure they get a good night's sleep so they can learn, grow and thrive. Nothing gives me more pleasure than working with parents to turn a bleary-eyed kid into an alert, happy, bright-eyed child!

Dr. Mathew Ednick is Board Certified in Pediatrics, Pediatric Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine.

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