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Healthy sleep habits play an important role in the growth and development of children. Children differ in how much sleep they need. Newborns, for example, need more sleep than preschoolers or older children.

Like adults, children and adolescents can experience sleep problems. Up to 50% of children will experience some sort of sleep problem. You may notice your child is having a hard time falling or staying asleep. These problems can cause issues such as behavioral and learning difficulties. Common sleep problems in children include:

  • Sleep apnea (pauses in your child’s breathing during sleep)
  • Insomnia (sleeplessness)
  • Night terrors
  • Sleepwalking

Things to Know

One way to diagnose a sleep disorder is with a sleep study called a polysomnogram. This test is performed at a sleep disorders center or a sleep lab. Intermountain Healthcare Sleep Disorders Centers provide comfort and care for your child during a sleep study.

For this study, sensors are attached to your child’s body to measure and record detailed information while they sleep. This information includes brain waves, eye movements, heart rate, muscle tone, and breathing. During the sleep study, a doctor can see what stage of sleep your child is in and how long they are in each stage. Stages of sleep include light sleep, deep sleep, and the type of sleep where children dream (known as REM sleep).

The sleep study does not hurt and will happen during the overnight hours. Depending on the facility and study, you may be allowed to stay with your child during the study. A separate bed will be provided in your child’s room.

When to See a Doctor

Signs that your child may be suffering from a sleep problem or disorder include the following:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (or drowsiness)
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Sleepwalking
  • Irritability
  • Snoring
  • Bedwetting
If you think your child is suffering from a sleep disorder, be sure to talk to your child’s doctor.