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Losing Sleep Over Your Child’s Sleep?

When children don't get the right amount of sleep, it can lead to serious health and behavioral issues. Find out what to look for and what can be done.

Updated December 29, 2019

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, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia 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, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia 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.”

Sleep studies diagnose sleep problems

This often involves a sleep study. At the 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.

Chop at Virtua sleep labs

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 1-888-VIRTUA-3 (1-888-847-8823).

CHOP at Virtua sleep specialists treat:

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