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Is Sleep a Struggle?

March 15, 2017

From the Spring 2017 issue of AtlanticView Kids:

As parents or guardians, we want our children to get a good night’s rest – for them and for us. But what is “a good night’s sleep”? And when are a child’s sleeping habits a problem?

“From newborns to teens, children of any age can have problems with sleep,” says Ramneet Gill, MD, pediatric pulmonologist and sleep medicine specialist at the Respiratory Center for Children at Goryeb Children’s Hospital. “We work with children and families when lack of sleep causes the child to be irritable or not do well in school, or when it interferes with how well others in the home function during the day.

Top Sleep Concerns

Dr. Gill says that common sleep problems in children include the following:

  • Behavioral insomnia occurs when a toddler, for example, gets upset at bedtime and does not go to bed or stay in bed.

  • Poor “sleep hygiene,” such as using electronics at night, or just staying up too late.

For these problems, changing behaviors can improve sleep – but it takes a lot of motivation for everyone.

“We teach parents techniques to retrain their toddlers,” she says. “And for teens, the conversation is often about working with them to set limits and focus on priorities.”

As for other sleep issues that might require medical care:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway is being blocked (obstructed). When caused by large tonsils or adenoids, removing them with surgery can greatly improve sleep. Being overweight can contribute to obstructive sleep apnea, and we can assist in setting up a nutritional consultation with a pediatric specialist to work with the family on health and weight management.

  • Other health problems include restless leg syndrome, decreased respiratory muscle tone, and neuromuscular disease.

“The respiratory and sleep specialists at the Respiratory Center for Children at Goryeb Children’s Hospital will work closely with you and your child,” Dr. Gill says. “We can help with sleep difficulties, in partnership with your primary care provider and your family.”

For more information, call 973-971-4142.