Sleep Apnea

A child with sleep apnea lays in bed.

When your child doesn’t sleep well at night, is constantly cranky or seems overly sleepy during the day, your child may have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. At Nemours, our sleep medicine experts are board-certified pediatricians and pulmonologists (lung doctors) with special training in evaluating the causes of, and treating sleep disorders such as sleep apnea in children.

Learn More About Sleep Apnea in Children

Most children have a restless night every now and then — but when it becomes a habit and your child is not getting enough sleep or quality sleep because of sleep apnea, it could lead to other physical and mental problems. Sleep apnea in children occurs when kids stop breathing during periods of sleep.

At Nemours, our team of sleep medicine experts will take a complete medical history of your child and perform a complete physical examination.

An overnight sleep study — polysomnography — conducted at one of our Sleep Centers, will measure your child’s quality, quantity, and breathing patterns during sleep to determine if your child has sleep apnea.

Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington

1600 Rockland Road
Wilmington, DE 19803
Get Map & Directions »
Learn More About This Location »

For Appointments: (302) 651-4200

Sleep Apnea Office

Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
(302) 651-5056 or (302) 651-5242

Sleep Lab

Monday - Saturday: 7 p.m. - 7 a.m.
(302) 651-5808

U.S. News & World Report Best Children’s Hospitals: Pulmonology
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
Returning Patients
  • Patient Presents Without Legal Guardian (PDF)
    English | Spanish
    Note: A parent or legal guardian must be with a child for a first visit.
Sleep Medicine Form
Items to Bring to the Sleep Center
  • loose-fitting, two-piece pajamas, t-shirt and elastic waistband shorts or a diaper and t-shirt for infants
  • blanket and pillow will be provided, but you may bring your own, too
  • stuffed animals
  • toothbrush
  • nebulizer or ventilator (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 at bedtime or during the night
Forms & Resources
Sleep Medicine Form
Returning Patients
  • Patient Presents Without Legal Guardian (PDF)
    English | Spanish
    Note: A parent or legal guardian must be with a child for a first visit.
Resources for Patients & Families
Instructions for Friday and Saturday Evening Sleep Studies

Although we schedule sleep study appointments throughout the week, we receive many requests for Friday and Saturday night appointments.

If you have a Friday or Saturday night appointment, an advanced nurse will:
  • contact you on Friday morning (by 10:30 a.m.) to confirm your child’s appointment (either for Friday or Saturday night)
  • ask if your child needs to take any medications during the sleep study time
  • make sure your child is not sick
  • check to see if you have any question and go over last minute instructions

If you do not receive a call from us by 10:30 a.m., please call us
at (302) 651-5242 or (302) 651-5056

Where to Go for Your Child's Sleep Study Appointment
For your sleep study appointment, please arrive by 7:30 p.m.

Due to construction at the hospital, we ask that you please enter through the Playground Entrance. Please stop by the reception desk and get a photo ID badge made for the parent staying overnight. Someone will escort you to the Sleep Center on the 3rd floor.

Typically, the study is completed around 6 a.m., and a report will be completed and sent to your child’s referring doctor.

As a parent, you know how crucial it is for your child’s overall well-being to get a good night’s sleep. In Wilmington, Del., our board-certified pediatric sleep medicine specialists at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children know the value of a good night’s sleep, too. It not only allows your child’s body to rest from the day’s activities, but plays an important role in your child’s mental and physical development. That's one reason why Nemours specialist are trained to diagnose and treat sleep apnea in children.

Our team of board-certified sleep medicine specialists and pediatric pulmonologists (lung doctors), and registered sleep technologists, have advanced training in pediatric sleep medicine and treating sleep apnea in children.

To diagnose sleep apnea in children, we can schedule a sleep study evaluation conducted right here in the hospital at our outpatient Sleep Center. This study will help our specialists get to the bottom of what’s going on, and address ways to help your child start sleeping and feeling better again.

What's the Purpose of a Pediatric Sleep Study?

A pediatric sleep study is an important tool that measures the quantity, quality, and breathing patterns of your child’s sleep. During normal sleep, the brain remains active and goes through several stages which can affect sleep.

The sleep study will help determine if your child:
  • has a breathing or movement disorder
  • problems falling or staying asleep
  • is experiencing a behavioral sleep disorder such as:
    • poor school performance
    • mood disorders
    • attention deficit
    • daytime drowsiness
What to Expect From a Pediatric Sleep Study

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

Although your child should sleep alone in the sleep study bed, you can be right there at the bedside the whole time. You can sleep in the same room on a couch that converts into a bed.

The sleep study begins with a registered sleep technologist attaching painless, sticky sensors to your child’s head, nose, mouth, chest, abdomen, index finger, and legs. When the sensors are removed, the sticky glue comes off easily in the bath. These sensors allow us to record your child’s breathing and sleep patterns. Once your child is connected to all the monitors and the study is being recorded, the lights will be turned off.

The pediatric sleep study will last the entire night while we record your child’s breathing and sleeping for up to eight hours.

View Video on What to Expect From a 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. It may help to know that during the sleep study, you will be in the same room and your child can:

  • call you or the sleep technician to go to the bathroom during the night if needed
  • turn on the side to get comfortable
  • call the sleep technician if the wires get tangled or start pulling
  • the sticky glue comes off easily in a bath or shower

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

Tips for Preparing for Your Child’s Pediatric Sleep Study
  • Wash your child’s hair before the sleep study and do not use gels, mousse, sprays or lotions, as they may interfere with the testing.
  • Make sure to feed your child dinner before arriving at the Sleep Center.
  • Check with the nurse practitioner before you give your child any over-the-counter cold 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 fever, cough, runny nose, or any other health issue the day of or the day before the sleep study.
Sleep Disordered Breathing Program

Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) is the term for breathing difficulties that occur during sleep. This can include anything from frequent loud snoring to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which involves repeated episodes of partial or complete blockage of the airway during sleep.

Our program for children with sleep disordered breathing is the first of its kind in the Delaware Valley. The Complex Sleep Disordered Breathing Clinic (CSDBC) is a collaboration between our specialists in pulmonology and otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat, or ENT). The clinic allows for clinical decisions regarding your child's care to be made in a team-oriented fashion, since ENT and pulmonology staff members are seeing your child and your family the same day, in the same clinic.

For some children, sleep apnea can disappear after their tonsils and adenoids are removed, but not for all. For many in this latter group, a procedure called “drug-induced sleep endoscopy,” (or DISE), may be recommended. This involves the use of a flexible tube with a tiny camera (endoscope), which is passed through one side of the nose as the child begins to snore and experience some blockage of breathing. The doctor can then observe the potential blockage of breathing in the palate, tongue and throat regions. The most appropriate treatment plan can then be made — medical, surgical or a combination of the two.