Sleep Disorders in Children

Helping Children Get Restful Sleep

Children who have difficulty sleeping soundly may be experiencing a wide range of conditions. Troubled sleep may be caused by poor sleep habits, but it may also signal a more serious medical concern. Left untreated, children who don’t get a regular, restful sleep are at risk for delayed growth and development, memory and attention issues, and behavioral problems. Our pediatric sleep disorders experts diagnose the cause of your child’s sleep problem and work with your child to ensure your entire family gets a good night’s sleep.

Sleep Disorders that Affect Children

Sleep disorders that affect children cover a broad range of conditions -- from insomnia, night terrors, and sleepwalking, to narcolepsy and circadian rhythm disorders. Or your child may have poor sleep habits that require behavioral and lifestyle modifications. Less commonly, difficulty falling asleep or staying awake may be signs of movement disorders, such as restless leg syndrome or head-banging. Sometimes troubled sleep is due to an obstruction or blockage in the airways that causes pauses in breathing during sleep. This condition is called obstructive sleep apnea.

Depending on the reason behind your child’s trouble sleeping, he or she may be treated by one or more members of our pediatric sleep disorders team. Our experts include pediatric specialists in child development and behavioral health, neurology, pulmonology, and otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat, or ENT), who work together to provide the best care for your child.

  • Our sleep disorder specialists are nationally recognized for their expertise. In addition to providing ongoing education to parents about their child’s sleep problems, our experts contribute to national discussions and publications on pediatric sleep problems, including sleep disorders associated with rare diseases, and the sleep-related problems that occur among children with chronic conditions.

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 Children’s a positive, welcoming, and comfortable experience.

  • Doctor visits and hospitals can be overwhelming and sometimes scary for children. Our child life specialists can enhance the care your child receives. They explain procedures in ways your child can understand, offer encouragement and emotional support, and use fun activities to help your child relax.
  • Our care coordinators and social workers help you navigate the medical system and coordinate the variety of health services your child may need. They can help you work with insurance providers, connect you with resources, and help you manage the details related to your child’s care. 


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


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

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