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SUNY Downstate Sleep Disorders Center

Children & Sleep Disorders

photo of young boy sleeping

Children with sleep disorders may exhibit symptoms such as excitability, irritability, difficulty staying focused and poor attention spans. Children with upper airway restriction often snore, have raspy breathing or sound congested while sleeping. Children with chronic snoring should be evaluated for apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in children has been linked to growth problems, ADHD, poor school performance, learning difficulties, bedwetting and high blood pressure. Most children who snore do NOT have apnea, but a sleep study is the only reliable way to tell for sure. Since diagnosis and management of pediatric OSA differ from that of adult OSA, it's important to obtain an accurate clinical and sleep laboratory assessment. OSA in children is a serious disorder that if left untreated may result in health problems as well as behavior and academic problems. Although common, OSA often goes unrecognized, but it can usually be easily treated if detected. Symptoms of pediatric OSA should not be ignored.

Common Symptoms Of Pediatric OSA

  • Habitual snoring
  • Mouth breathing
  • Restless sleep
  • Bed-wetting
  • Feeling unrefreshed upon awakening
  • Daytime inattentiveness
  • Mood swings
  • Hyperactivity

Sleep Studies for Children

At the Sleep Disorders Center, we perform sleep studies for children during the night as well as during the daytime. If the patient is a minor (under the age of 18), a parent or legal guardian is required to stay with the patient at the Sleep Disorders Center during the testing procedure. The parent/guardian stays in the room with the child. A queen size bed is available for the adult to sleep with the child, but a crib, a large chair and an extra single bed are also available to make you as comfortable as possible.

Tips to Promote Good Sleep

  • Avoid going in to your child's room throughout the night. The child may become dependant on the attention and become sleepless if you don't offer it.
  • Do not send your child to bed as punishment. This can make the child afraid and lead to poor sleep.
  • For children who have trouble falling asleep, make sure the room is dark and quiet. Soft music or the sound of a fan may help cover up disturbing noises. A nightlight or dim lamp is fine if the child is afraid of the dark.
  • Never give a child sleeping medicine without asking the doctor first.