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Losing sleep over your child’s sleeping habits?

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Does your 8-year old snore so loudly that the room rumbles? Do you have a 4-year-old who bargains her way to bedtime with requests for water and cookies?

Does she insist that you fall asleep in her bed? Does your teenager stay awake until all hours and have difficulty waking for school?

Sleep disturbance issues in children and toddlers are common. However, when children do not get the right amount of high-quality sleep for their age, it can lead to serious health and behavioral issues.

Lee J. Brooks, MD, CHOP pediatric pulmonologist and sleep specialist, explains: “While snoring is not unusual, it is also not normal. Snoring could indicate a respiratory problem such as obstructive sleep apnea which can lead to learning problems and, over time, strain the heart or lungs. Often, large tonsils and adenoids are to blame. Removal corrects the problem in children with mild to moderate sleep apnea, but other treatments may be necessary for more severe patients.”

Other sleep problems involve behavioral issues.

“Some children become habituated to certain bedtime rituals in order to fall asleep and stay asleep,” says Alex Mason, MD, CHOP pediatric neurologist and sleep specialist. For example, some parents stay in a child’s bedroom until the child drifts off. The moment the parent leaves, the child awakens and begins to wail. “A plan of behavior modification for both the parent and child can correct the problem,” says Dr. Mason. But in order to treat the problem, we first must make a correct diagnosis.”

This often involves a sleep study. At the new Pediatric Sleep Lab in the Virtua Voorhees Health and Wellness Center, a child and parent stay overnight in a comfortable room. Throughout the night, the child’s sleep patterns and vital signs are monitored to properly diagnose and treat the sleep disturbance problem. This is a very important study for children with suspected sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or nocturnal seizures, for example, but is often not necessary if the problem is behavioral. The sleep specialists can help determine what testing, if any, is necessary for your child and what treatment methods should be used.

The sleep labs have home-like amenities such a television, DVD, private bath and shower. To arrange for a consultation or appointment for your child, call 1-855-VIRTUA-8.

CHOP at Virtua sleep specialists treat:

  • Snoring
  • Seep apnea
  • Infant apnea
  • Narcolepsy
  • Insomnia
  • Parasomnias
  • Sleep walking
  • Sleep terrors
  • Nocturnal seizures