Pediatric Sleep Study

Daytime drowsiness

Daytime drowsiness in school

When holding pediatric sleep studies in your sleep lab, recall that you will not handle children the same way you would adults. Children have unique needs based on their stage of development and age, varying from when they’re newborns to their adolescence.

Children’s sleep issues can range from bedtime settling problems, lack of sleep, sleep apnea, sleepwalking, and even to narcolepsy. The physician prescribes a pediatric sleep study based on what sleep issues these young patients are having.

Up to 50 percent of kids will have some variety of sleep issue. Identifying sleep disorders early can prevent negative repercussions like:

  • Irritability
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Learning difficulties
  • Behavioral issues
  • Poor academic performance
  • Vehicle accidents in teens

Why Does a Child Require a Sleep Study?

Sleep issues in children often solve themselves with time. Because of this, pediatric studies are an accurate way to identify common sleep disorders in young patients. Diagnosing and treating these disorders is essential to the health of a child.

In children, there are two common types of sleep issues; physiological and behavioral. These issues often happen in a young patient together. For instance, when a child has a sleep disorder, it can cause other health issues. While behavioral problems seem to go away eventually on their own, physiological problems are more involved, and a sleep study may be necessary.

Common Sleep Disorders in Children

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

An upper airway obstruction shows OSA. This upper airway obstruction is often noted by interrupted breathing, despite repeated respiratory effort, that interrupts normal sleep patterns. OSA is often associated with:

  • Small upper airway lumen size
  • Obesity
  • Failure of pharyngeal dilator muscles
  • Large upper airway soft tissue
Sleep study

Sleep study for children

In children, however, this obstruction commonly occurs due to enlarged adenoids and tonsils. The onset of OSA often happens when the child is between two and eight years old, in correspondence with peak tonsil growth. However, OSA can happen at any age. There is an overall one to five percent occurrence of OSA in children, occurring equally in females and males. It seems to have a higher prevalence in ethnic minorities.

Other signs of OSA may include:

  • Sleep-related paradoxical breathing
  • Unusual sleeping posture like a hyper-extended neck
  • Lots of daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Nighttime enuresis or diaphoresis

References and Resources