Sleep Medicine

child preparing for sleep

If your child is consistently waking during the night or your teen is sleeping excessively in the daytime, there could be an underlying pediatric sleep disorder to blame. Nemours’ board-certified sleep medicine and pulmonology experts have special training to diagnose, evaluate the causes of, and treat sleep disorders in children such as sleep apnea, insomnia, delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS), narcolepsy, nightmares and restless leg syndrome.

 
Read More About Sleep Disorders in Children

Sleep is important for the body to rehabilitate and heal, and studies consistently show that our children aren’t getting enough of it.

Trouble focusing, a decline in grades, irritability, excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep-related injuries, hyperactivity — these can all be signs of a potential pediatric sleep disorder. At Nemours, our pediatric sleep medicine experts will get to the bottom of what’s causing your child’s disrupted rest.

Common Pediatric Sleep Disorders

Some of the common sleep disorders in children we see include:

  • insomnia (difficulty getting to and staying asleep)
  • delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) (inability to fall asleep at bedtime and difficulty awakening)
  • restless leg syndrome (irresistible need for movement)
  • narcolepsy (uncontrollable urge to sleep)
  • breathing-disordered sleep (snoring, sleep apnea)
  • parasomnias (night terrors, nightmares or sleepwalking)
  • rhythmic movement disorders (head banging or rocking)
  • nocturnal enuresis (nighttime bedwetting)
  • bruxism (nighttime teeth grinding or clenching)
  • biological clock (circadian) rhythm disorders
  • nocturnal (nighttime) seizures
Evaluating Sleep Disorders: Pediatric Sleep Studies

As part of our comprehensive sleep medicine services, Nemours conducts pediatric sleep studies, known as polysomnography, to evaluate sleep disorders in newborns, children and teens. Pediatric sleep studies monitor what happens when your child is sleeping by tracking vital information such as brain waves, breathing, muscle tone, movement and heart rate using state-of-the-art technologies.

Our pediatric sleep specialists use this information to diagnose and treat sleep problems to restore your child’s peaceful, healing sleep for better nights — and days — ahead.

Specialized Care for Kids of All Ages

The Nemours team has the expertise to evaluate and treat children of all ages (from newborns to teens) with underlying medical conditions or complex medical needs that may contribute to pediatric sleep disorders. That includes kids who have:

Expert, Family-Centered Care at Nemours

Nemours’ pediatric sleep medicine experts include pulmonologists who are consistently named among the best doctors in America. Working with licensed respiratory specialists and sleep technicians specifically trained in pediatric sleep disorders, our coordinated care teams share a common goal of helping your child get a good night’s rest.

Nemours Children's Hospital, Orlando


13535 Nemours Parkway
Orlando, FL 32827
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For Appointments: (407) 650-7715
Hours: Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 
What to Bring
  • photo ID
  • medical and pharmacy insurance cards
  • preferred pharmacy name and phone number
  • names and dosage of all medications, including over-the-counter medication, your child is currently taking
  • guardianship and custody papers, if a legal guardian rather than a parent accompanies your child
Sleep Study Form
Items to Bring With You to the Sleep Center
  • loose-fitting, two-piece pajamas or button-down shirt, T-shirt and elastic waistband shorts
  • diaper and T-shirt for infants
  • linens are provided, but you may bring your own if you prefer
  • favorite blanket, pillow and/or stuffed animal
  • toothbrush and toothpaste
  • medical equipment (nebulizer, ventilator, CPAP, if needed)
  • any food items or drinks your child may need during the night — bring all equipment and supplies if tube feeding is required
  • any required medications (in the original containers) your child may need to take while here
 
Forms & Resources
New Patient Forms
Sleep Study Form
Resources for Patients & Families
 
Where to Go for Your Child's Sleep Study Appointment

Your child’s pediatric sleep study will be conducted on the hospital’s fifth floor. Please arrive 15 minutes before your child’s scheduled appointment


As a parent, you know the value of a good night’s sleep on your child’s overall well-being. Sleep not only allows your child’s body to rest from the day’s activities, but it plays an important role in physical, emotional, cognitive and social development.

Chronic sleep disorders in children and teens can lead to a host of long-term health problems such as high blood pressure, weight gain/obesity, diabetes and more. And sometimes, sleep disorders are caused by underlying behavioral or medical conditions. That’s why it’s important to have your child evaluated by experienced pediatric sleep specialists as soon as you see signs that your child isn’t getting enough sleep.

 
Symptoms of Pediatric Sleep Disorders
  • excessive tiredness
  • decrease in school/academic performance
  • daytime sleep
  • difficulty getting up in the morning
  • sleep-related injuries
  • bedwetting
  • trouble focusing
  • irritability
  • hyperactivity
  • depression
 
Common Conditions that Cause Sleep Problems in Children
  • breathing disorders (snoring, sleep apnea)
  • chronic lung conditions (asthma, cystic fibrosis)
  • seizure disorders (epilepsy)
  • autism and autism spectrum disorders (PDD, Asperger’s)
  • ear, nose and/or throat conditions (enlarged adenoids/tonsils)
  • urologic conditions (nocturnal enuresis, or nighttime bedwetting)
  • genetic disorders (Down syndrome)
  • neuromuscular diseases (multiple sclerosis)
  • weight problems (obesity)
  • gastrointestinal problems (gastrointestinal reflux disease, or GERD)
  • psychiatric disorders (anxiety)

Evaluating and Managing Sleep Disorders in Children and Teens

The sleep medicine experts at Nemours Children’s Hospital include some of the nation’s best board-certified pediatricians and pulmonologists (lung doctors), as well as registered respiratory therapists and sleep technologists who are specifically trained in pediatric health care.

Together, we work closely with onsite pediatric specialists in neurology, otolaryngology, gastroenterology and behavioral medicine (psychologists and psychiatrists) — among others — who are leaders in their fields to evaluate and treat children with sleep disorders.

Many of our specialists also see patients at our conveniently-located specialty clinics in downtown Orlando, Lake Mary and Viera.

 
Common Sleep Disorders in Children
Some of the common pediatric sleep disorders we see include:
  • insomnia (difficulty getting to and staying asleep)
  • delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) (inability to fall asleep at bedtime and difficulty awakening)
  • restless leg syndrome (irresistible need for movement)
  • narcolepsy (uncontrollable urge to sleep)
  • breathing-disordered sleep (snoring, sleep apnea)
  • parasomnias (night terrors, nightmares or sleepwalking)
  • rhythmic movement disorders (head banging or rocking)
  • nocturnal enuresis (nighttime bedwetting)
  • bruxism (nighttime teeth grinding or clenching)
  • biological clock (circadian) rhythm disorders
  • nocturnal (nighttime) seizures

Learn More About Sleep Disorders in Children From KidsHealth.org »


Getting to the Bottom of Pediatric Sleep Disorders

To understand what’s causing your child or teen’s disrupted sleep, we conduct a thorough physical examination and take detailed medical and sleep histories that cover everything from school performance and social interactions, to recent changes in routine and even your own (the parents’) sleep quality.

Depending on our findings, we may recommend a variety of therapies, tests or studies. Initially, you might be asked to try certain at-home strategies to promote your child’s healthy sleep, such as:

  • implementing relaxation techniques, new sleep schedules, routines, etc.
  • taking supplements or medications
  • keeping a sleep diary

For further evaluation, we may also:

  • order blood work
  • make specialist referrals, if necessary (pediatric gastroenterologist, otolaryngologist, neurologist, etc.)
  • schedule a polysomnography (overnight sleep study)

Treating Sleep Disorders in Children

Once we know what’s impacting your child’s sleep, we may recommend a number of different strategies, which may include:

  • behavior therapies to deal with stress or emotional issues (with trained pediatric behavioral specialists, psychologists and/or psychiatrists)
  • therapies to manage things like sleep routines and the time your child spends in bed
  • bright-light therapy to help reset sleep rhythms
  • sleep hygiene recommendations (keeping a clutter-free sleep environment)
  • surgery to improve conditions that cause sleep disturbance (removal of tonsils or adenoids)
  • ventilation therapies like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to assist breathing during sleep
  • prescription medications and supplements to help kids fall and stay sleep

And we’ll follow up with your child for as long as it takes to achieve peaceful sleep.


Pediatric Sleep Study at Nemours Children's Hospital

Sleep specialists at Nemours Children’s Hospital conduct overnight sleep studies (or polysomnography) to further evaluate sleep disorders in children. Our sleep lab is equipped with private rooms that feature state-of-the-art technology and the highest standard in safety and comfort.

 
What to Expect During a Pediatric Sleep Study

A polysomnography is an important tool that measures the quantity, quality and breathing patterns that can affect a child’s good night’s sleep.

Rest assured, a sleep study is not scary or painful in any way. At Nemours, we make your child as comfortable as possible. You’ll have a private room with a TV, linens and pillows.

The sleep study begins with a registered sleep technologist attaching painless, sticky electrodes (sensors) to your child’s scalp, mouth, chest, abdomen, index finger and legs, and a sensor on the nose. Their purpose is to monitor:

  • brain waves
  • eye movements
  • body position/movement
  • heart rate
  • oxygen levels
  • muscle tone
  • respiratory/airflow

Once your child is properly hooked up to the monitors, we’ll turn off the lights to promote sleep onset. Typically, the sleep study lasts about 8 hours and is completed between 4 and 6 a.m. A report will be compiled and sent to your child’s primary care provider and referring doctor.

Please note that your child must sleep alone in the sleep study bed. One parent can sleep on a couch that converts into a bed so you’re at your child’s side the whole time.

View Video About What to Expect From a Sleep Study »

 
Preparing for Your Child’s Pediatric Sleep Study
  • Wash your child’s hair before the sleep study. Do not use gels, mousse, sprays or lotions — they may interfere with the testing.
  • Feed your child dinner before arriving at the sleep center.
  • Check with the nurse practitioner before giving your child any over-the-counter cold relief or medications the day of the study.
  • Do not allow your child to drink caffeinated beverages or eat chocolate after noon on the day of the study.
  • Call to reschedule if your child develops a fever, cough, runny nose or any other health issue the day of or the day before the sleep study.
 
Talking to Your Child About the Sleep Study

It’s a good idea to talk to your child a few days before the pediatric sleep study appointment to ease potential fears. Depending on your child’s age and understanding, you might want to say:

  • The electrodes/sensors are not painful (and the sticky glue comes off easily with water).
  • There are no needles involved whatsoever.
  • You can bring a favorite blanket or stuffed animal to stay the night.
  • You have to sleep alone in the bed, but Mom or Dad will sleep next to you on a convertible couch the whole night.
  • You will be hooked up to a monitor with wires, but there is plenty of room for you to move comfortably in the bed.
  • You may turn on your side to get comfortable for sleep.
  • Ask for help getting to the bathroom.
  • Ask for help if the wires get tangled or are pulling.
 
Accommodations Designed With You in Mind

At Nemours Children’s Hospital, you’ll feel right at home in one of our private rooms designed with input from families who know what it’s like to have a child in the hospital.

Our comfortable rooms feature wireless Internet access, connections for DVD players and game systems and two flat-screen TVs.

Other in-room features include:

  • full floor-to-ceiling windows for natural light
  • refrigerator for family meals and snacks
  • wardrobe storage for personal items and a hotel-style safe
  • GetWellNetwork interactive television (uniquely based on your child’s age, medical condition and more) allows your child to watch TV, surf the Web, check email, play music and games, and learn about your Nemours health care team

We have many more comforts and amenities such as:

  • complimentary valet and parking
  • kid-friendly commons areas for siblings
  • café and coffee shop
  • non-denominational chapel
  • concierge services
Patient Safety is Our Top Priority   

When you come to Nemours Children’s Hospital for a pediatric sleep study, you’ll notice our commitment to patient safety from the moment you arrive. Among many other safety features, our hospital has:

  • secure, lighted parking close to the building
  • 24/7 security guard presence
  • advanced patient and visitor badging system
  • sophisticated video monitoring center
  • centralized patient monitoring with 24/7 emergency response team

During the sleep study, be positive and reassuring, and encourage your child to relax. You may read a bedtime story to help calm your child.

We’ll make sure you and your child feel comfortable throughout the study — answering your questions and addressing any fears and concerns. We want to make the experience as stress-free as possible and help set your child on the path to getting a good night’s sleep.