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Girl sleeping with stuffed animal in hospital bed

At Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, our pediatric-trained sleep specialists are skilled at diagnosing and treating children and teens with a wide range of sleep disorders, including:

  • Abnormal movements in sleep
  • Bedtime resistance
  • Hypersomnia (abnormal daytime sleepiness)
  • Insomnia (difficulty sleeping at night)
  • Nighttime awakenings
  • Sleep terrors
  • Sleepwalking
  • Narcolepsy
  • Nightmares
  • Restless legs syndrome or periodic limb movement disorder
  • Snoring, obstructive sleep apnea

Should I be worried if my kid snores?

It may be appropriate to schedule an overnight sleep study, also called a polysomnogram, if your child snores loud enough to disrupt his sleep, resulting in:

  • Daytime problems with sleepiness
  • Difficulty with behavior, especially in a younger child
  • Difficulty paying attention in school
  • Declining academic performance

At Children’s, we offer two kinds of sleep evaluations to help figure out why your child may not be sleeping well: a daytime sleep consultation and an overnight sleep study.

Daytime sleep consultations

The first step to evaluating and managing a sleep disorder may be a daytime consultation with a sleep disorder doctor in an outpatient clinic. These office visits can be arranged by a parent or a referring physician, such as your child’s primary care physician.

During these consultations, a doctor will:

  • Discuss the problem in depth with you and your child.
  • Examine your child.
  • Devise a treatment or management plan with follow-up to monitor progress.

If our sleep disorder doctor feels it is necessary, he may arrange for additional testing, such as an overnight sleep study.

Overnight sleep studies

An overnight sleep study is a test that looks at what happens to your child’s body when he is sleeping. Your child’s doctor will use the test results to diagnose any sleep or breathing disorder that is evident. 

Overnight sleep studies are painless and performed overnight in a private room at a Children’s facility with a parent present. They are covered by most insurance companies and require a physician referral or a previous daytime sleep consultation with one of our sleep medicine doctors. Our overnight sleep study team can be reached at 404-785-2974.

 

Before your child arrives at Children’s for his overnight sleep study:

  • He needs to take a bath or shower and wash his hair. Do not use any conditioners, creams, body lotions or hair spray after the bath.
  • Have your child eat a normal dinner before the study. He cannot have caffeine, such as soda, tea or chocolate, the day of the study. No meals or food will be provided during the study.
  • Keep your child awake after 1 p.m. the day of the study if he is older than age 2.
  • Make sure you are ready to stay the night.
  • Have someone care for your other children at home. We do not allow other children in our sleep centers.

What should I bring to my child’s overnight sleep study?

You should bring the following items to your child’s overnight sleep study:

  • Your child’s medications
  • Pajamas or two-piece clothing, such as a T-shirt and shorts
  • Snacks for before and after the sleep study
  • A favorite toy, blanket or book for your child
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Bottles and formula, including formula for gastric tube (G-tube) feedings
  • Any machines your child uses at night, such as:
    • A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or Bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP) machine
    • A ventilator, suction supplies or feeding pumps

Your child will not need his apnea monitor during the study. Use it as you normally do in the car seat on your ride to the sleep study, if applicable.

How should I prepare my child for an overnight sleep study?

INFANTS

You cannot explain a sleep study to your baby, but you can help him feel more at ease if you:

  • Bring a special blanket, toy or pacifier.
  • Comfort him with your presence and voice.
  • Bring juice or formula to last through the night.

TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN

Young children may be nervous or upset about the sleep study. The best time to talk with your child is on the day of the sleep study:

    • Tell your child his doctor is giving him a test to make him feel better.
    • Use simple words.
    • Be honest.
    • Tell your child you will stay with him in the same room during the sleep study.

    SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN

    School-age children have good imaginations. They may be afraid if they imagine something much worse than the actual study:

    • Tell your child he is going to the hospital to have a test.
    • Use simple words to explain the sleep study.
    • Be honest.
    • Let your child know that you will be in the same room during the sleep study.

    What can I expect during my child’s overnight sleep study?

    • You can stay with your child all night. We have a bed for one parent.
    • You can leave your child’s room for a few minutes to eat or relax. You may sit in the waiting room or get something to eat or drink in the hospital cafeteria or vending machine areas.

    What happens during an overnight sleep study?

    • Your child’s head will be marked with washable markers.
    • Twelve small, round sensors with soft, colored wires will be put on his head. These are called electrodes. They will not hurt your child.
    • Two or more electrodes will be put on your child’s chest. Those measure his heart rate. A small red light will be taped to his finger or toe. This measures the oxygen in his blood.
    • Your child’s breathing will be measured using two belts around his torso and a small piece of plastic taped under his nose.
    • Technologists will study your child’s sleep throughout the night. They will use computers, cameras and monitors.
    • An intercom will be on at all times. This lets you talk to the technologists in the nearby monitoring room.

    How can I help my child during an overnight sleep study?

    • Let your child fall asleep alone in the bed.
    • Proper room temperature and lighting are important to the study. Ask your child’s technologist to change them if needed. Do not change them yourself.
    • Stay quiet during the sleep study. Do not use a cellphone, computer or TV.
    • If your child wakes up, let him try to fall back to sleep on his own. It is alright to let him cry for a few minutes before comforting him.
    • Remind your child not to pull off anything that the sleep technologist put on him.

    Your child’s sleep study will be finished between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. The results will be sent to your child’s doctor in about one week. You may call your child’s doctor after one week for the results.

    Sleep is just as important as food and water for a child to have the energy it takes to grow up strong and healthy. Sleep deprivation increases hormones that make us crave food high in fat, sugar and salt, which can lead to a greater risk for obesity. Additionally, kids who don’t get enough sleep have trouble paying attention, learning and coping with stress.

    What are some good sleep habits for children?

    Your child should:

    • Have a 20- to 30-minute relaxing bedtime routine that is the same every night. This can include reading a book or talking about his day.
    • Go to bed at night and get up in the morning at the same time every day.
    • Have a comfortable, quiet and dark bedroom. He will sleep better in a room that is cool.
    • Exercise every day.

    Your child should not:

    • Have caffeine at least three to four hours before bedtime.
    • Have a TV in his bedroom. He can easily develop the bad habit of “needing” the TV to fall asleep.
    • Play video games or use the computer before bedtime.
    • Go to bed hungry. A light snack before bed is OK.
    • Use the bedroom for time-out or other punishments. You want your child to think of his bedroom as a good place, not a bad one.

    How much sleep does a child need?

    • Infants and toddlers: 13 to 14 hours, including naps
    • Ages 3 to 5: 12 to 13 hours, including naps
    • Ages 6 to 12: 9 to 10 hours, no naps
    • Ages 13 to 18: 8 to 10 hours, no naps

    Egleston-based providers

    The following sleep specialists see patients at the Center for Advanced Pediatrics and the Marcus Autism Center. Call 404-785-KIDS (5437) to make an appointment with one of these providers.

    Scottish Rite-based providers

    The following sleep specialists see patients at Children’s at Mount Vernon Highway, Children's at Old Milton Parkway and Children’s at Town Center Outpatient Care Center. Call 404-785-0588 to make an appointment with one of these providers.

    We offer outpatient clinics in locations across metro Atlanta. Overnight sleep studies are performed at Egleston Hospital, Scottish Rite Hospital and Children’s at Satellite Boulevard.