Sleep Disorders in Children

Helping Children Get Restful Sleep

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A wide range of issues can cause children to have difficulty sleeping. While troubled sleep can be caused by poor sleep habits, it may also signal a serious medical concern. Left untreated, children who don’t get regular, restful sleep are at risk for delayed growth and development, memory and attention issues, and behavioral problems. Our pediatric sleep disorder experts identify the cause of your child’s sleep problem and work with you and your child to ensure your entire family gets a good night’s rest. Unlike many other centers, we offer care and facilitate sleep studies for children of all ages, including infants.

Our Locations

Our modern and comfortable sleep lab has a designated, secure floor for children. Clinic appointments are available throughout the Triangle.

Sleep Disorders We Treat

We evaluate the full range of issues that can disrupt your child’s sleep, including bedtime resistance, frequent waking, snoring, unusually short and long sleep periods, bedwetting, abnormal sleep breathing patterns, oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange in children with neuromuscular diseases, and more. 

Pediatric sleep disorders we treat include:

  • Circadian rhythm disorders: disruptions in the body’s natural 24-hour clock that make it difficult to maintain a daily sleep schedule
  • Insomnia: trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Narcolepsy: excessive sleepiness that can cause your child to fall asleep too often
  • Night terrors: behaviors of intense fear (like screaming and flailing) acted out while your child is still asleep 
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: pauses in breathing during sleep due to an obstruction or blockage in the airway
  • Sleepwalking: walking or doing other physical activities during sleep

Our Pediatric Sleep Disorders Team

Depending on the cause of your child’s sleep issues, they may be treated by one or more of our pediatric sleep disorders experts, including:

  • Pediatric sleep specialists
  • Child development and behavioral health specialists
  • Neurologists
  • Pulmonologists
  • Otolaryngologists 
  • Craniofacial surgeons 
  • Nutritionists 

We work together with you and your child’s primary care provider to create and maintain an effective treatment plan.

Board-Certified Experts
Our pediatric sleep specialists completed additional, specialized training to earn board certification in sleep medicine. In addition to educating parents about their child’s sleep problems, our experts contribute to national discussions and publications on pediatric sleep problems. These include sleep disorders associated with rare diseases and sleep-related problems in children with chronic conditions.

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Sleep Evaluation and Sleep Studies

A comprehensive evaluation by our team of experts may uncover the cause of your child’s sleep disorder and start them on the path to treatment and better sleep. Our team will review your child’s medical history, perform a physical exam, and discuss your child’s home routines, school success, and relationships. Diagnosis may also require an overnight sleep study.

Sleep Study

During a sleep study, called polysomnography, your child and a parent or guardian will stay overnight in our specialized sleep laboratory. While your child is asleep, we will monitor their body functions including sleep stages, eye movements, brain waves, muscle activity, breathing, body positions, and heartbeat. Our sleep lab is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a designation that recognizes our commitment to quality diagnostic services and successful long-term management of sleep disorders.

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Treatments are customized to your child’s condition and may include a combination of therapies and lifestyle changes.

Behavior Modification

Many sleep disorders can be resolved with behavioral and lifestyle changes. Our child development and behavioral health specialists work with your child to overcome issues such as negative associations with sleep and poor habits that can cause sleep problems.


Medication may be prescribed to treat problems related to your child’s sleep disorder. For example, stimulants may be prescribed if narcolepsy is diagnosed, and iron supplements may be recommended to address restless leg syndrome. Medicines to improve nasal congestion due to allergies may also help open airways while your child sleeps.


If your child is diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) or BiPAP (bi-level positive airway pressure) therapy can provide relief. These devices gently deliver air at varying levels of pressure through a mask to help your child breathe during sleep. 


Surgery may be recommended to remove or reduce airway blockages responsible for obstructive sleep apnea in children. Surgery is performed by pediatric otolaryngologists to remove enlarged tonsils and adenoids.

Best Children's Hospital in NC

Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center is proud to be nationally ranked in 10 pediatric specialties.

Family and Support Services

We know how stressful diagnostic testing and medical appointments can be as you pursue solutions for your child’s sleep problems. Through our support services, we hope to make your family’s time at Duke a positive, welcoming, and comfortable experience.

Child Life Specialists
Doctor visits and hospitals can be overwhelming and sometimes scary for children. Our child life specialists can explain procedures in ways your child can understand, offer encouragement and emotional support, and use fun activities to help your child relax.

Care Coordinators and Social Workers
We help you navigate the medical system and coordinate the variety of health services your child may need. Care coordinators and social workers can help you communicate with insurance providers, find resources, and manage details related to your child’s care.

This page was medically reviewed on 02/09/2023 by