My Child Has Trouble Sleeping, What Now?

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Melisa Moore, PhD

Melisa Moore, PhD

As every parent, grandparent, relative, and friend of a child with difficulty sleeping knows, sleep problems have a strong impact not only on the child's life but also on the sleep and daytime functioning of other family members. What is not as well-known is that there are effective medical and behavioral treatments available for childhood sleep problems. Because such problems tend to persist or recur from infancy to adulthood, early identification and management by a sleep specialist is critical to improving the quality of life of the child and the entire family.

Here are answers to common questions from parents about their child's sleep apnea and other sleep problems.

My child has just been diagnosed with sleep apnea. What can I expect next?

After your child is diagnosed with sleep apnea , you will have a discussion with your sleep specialist about next steps. Often a referral to an ear, nose and throat doctor is recommended to see if surgery (typically removal of the tonsils and/or adenoids) is a good option. About 75 percent of children will be cured by this type of surgery. Several months after surgery, it is recommended that your child have a follow-up study in order to see if the sleep apnea has resolved.

You may also be asked to come back to the clinic to discuss other treatment options such as CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) if your child is not a candidate for surgery, or if a follow-up sleep study shows that s/he still has sleep apnea after surgery.

What questions should I ask the sleep doctor or pediatrician?

Describe your worries openly. Often in sleep medicine, the details will help the doctor make the best plan for your child. Additionally, you should discuss any concerns about your child's growth and development, feeding (including reflux), ear infections, eczema, or other health concerns that could impact your child's sleep.

Will my insurance cover the equipment?

In most cases if your child has been diagnosed with sleep apnea by polysomnography, it will be covered.

What if my child is having problems adjusting to