Sleep Disorders Program

Good sleep is important for your child. During a sound sleep, your child’s body gets extra help from blood flow and hormones to help with growth and development.

That’s why children spend 40% of their childhood sleeping. But if your child is struggling to get enough sleep — whether it’s at night or during naps — they may have a sleep disorder. And disorders like sleep apnea can also cause problems of their own, such as behavioral challenges, slowed growth, and hormonal and metabolic problems.

The Sleep Disorders Program at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center is dedicated to diagnosing, managing, and treating sleep-related disorders to help your child regain healthy sleeping habits.

Make An Appointment

A referral is not needed to schedule a Sleep Clinic appointment.

A referral is needed for an appointment at the Sleep Lab. Your child’s pediatrician or a sleep disorder specialist will need to place an order for them to undergo a sleep study.

For more information, call 402-955-7378.

Common sleep disorder symptoms include:

  • Bed wetting
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Moodiness and behavioral problems
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Restless legs
  • Sleep disruptions, such as sleepwalking or nightmares
  • Snoring
  • Stalling or refusing to go to bed
  • Sweating when sleeping

How Much Sleep Does Your Child Need?

Age Recommended Daily Sleep Hours
4 to 12 months 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
1 to 2 years 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
3 to 5 years 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
6 to 12 years 9 to 12 hours
13 to 18 years 8 to 10 hours
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

What Sets Children’s Apart?

We are the most comprehensive pediatric sleep disorders program in the region:

  • Our Sleep Disorders Program is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. This means we meet high standards of care for treating children with trouble sleeping. We are one of only 24 accredited pediatric sleep medicine programs in the country.
  • Our newly renovated Sleep Lab has 6 beds, including accommodations for one parent to sleep.
  • Our lab is equipped with state-of-the-art sleep study technology, and our sleep studies are performed by registered polysomnographic technologists.
  • To make scheduling a sleep study more convenient for your child and your family — and to make sure your child doesn’t miss school for the study — our sleep lab is open 7 nights a week.
  • We are able to perform sleep studies during hospital admissions.
  • We are able to integrate our care with Children’s Home Healthcare and other home health agencies with experience in pediatric care in order to provide optimal equipment for children.
  • We actively manage our patients who are on non-invasive and invasive ventilation with cloud-based online platforms that allow review of CPAP/BiPAP and ventilator data.

Services We Offer

Our Sleep Disorders Program has two separate clinics to restore your child’s normal sleep patterns. Your child’s care team will include providers who are specially trained in pediatric sleep medicine.

Our team will assess your child’s condition and decide which clinic is best for your child’s sleep problems. The clinics we offer are:

Sleep Disorders Clinic — For Primary/Physiological Sleep Disorders

In our Sleep Disorders Clinic, we treat sleep disorders caused by physical health conditions, such as sleep apnea from a blocked airway. Your child will work with pediatric pulmonologists who are specially trained in pediatric sleep medicine.

Some of the conditions we treat at the Sleep Disorders Clinic include:

  • Central Sleep Apnea

    If your child’s breathing stops and starts over and over during sleep, they may have central sleep apnea. In infants, these pauses in breathing can last up to 20 seconds.

    Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by a blocked airway, central sleep apnea occurs when the brain doesn’t tell your child’s muscles to breathe.

    Treating central sleep apnea may involve:

    • Nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
    • An implantable device that can activate nerves in the chest to stimulate breathing
  • Craniofacial Anomalies

    Children with craniofacial anomalies — abnormally shaped head or facial features — sometimes have more difficulty breathing during sleep. Treatment may include wearing continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP) during sleep, which can keep the airway open.
  • Narcolepsy

    If your child has narcolepsy, their brain has trouble controlling the sleep-wake cycle. This can make them feel tired all the time. Narcolepsy is caused by a lack of sleep hormone-producing cells in your child’s central nervous system. Because it is a lifelong condition, narcolepsy is typically treated using a combination of medication and lifestyle modifications, such as regularly scheduled naps.
  • Obesity

    Body weight can affect your child’s sleep, too. Insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea are linked to obesity. Obesity can weaken the muscles in the upper airway — or even change their structure — which can cause the airway to become blocked off during sleep. Identifying obesity-related sleep disorders is an important part of helping your child regain their health.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea

    If your child has sleep apnea, their airway is partially or completely blocked during sleep, which can make them stop breathing while asleep. Treatment for obstructive sleep apnea can include:
    • Nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
    • Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss
  • Periodic Limb Movements

    Periodic limb movements are involuntary movements, usually in your child’s legs, that repeat during sleep, typically every 20 to 40 seconds. These movements may wake your child up during the night, causing them to feel tired during the day.

Behavioral Sleep Disorders Clinic — For Psychological Sleep Disorders

Behavioral Sleep Medicine is the branch of sleep medicine focused on addressing sleep disorders caused by behavioral or psychological factors, such as night terrors or bedwetting.

Children’s behavioral sleep medicine specialist, Brett Kuhn, PhD, is the only psychologist certified in behavioral sleep medicine in Nebraska who is dedicated to helping children and adolescents with sleep troubles.

At Children’s, we use research-based treatments customized to your child’s specific behavioral sleep problems.

Some of the conditions we treat at the Behavioral Sleep Disorders Clinic include:

  • Bedwetting
  • Nightmares
  • Sleepwalking

Does Your Child Need A Sleep Study?

If your child goes to one of our sleep clinics and the sleep specialist feels that further evaluation is necessary to best diagnose and treat your child’s sleep disorder, they will send your child to our sleep lab for an overnight sleep study.

During a sleep study, your child will spend the night in our lab. While sleeping, we will place sensors on your child’s scalp and face to monitor:

  • Heart rate and respiratory rate
  • Breathing patterns
  • Leg movements
  • Blood-oxygen levels during sleep
  • General behavior during sleep periods (captured on video camera)
  • Sleep position
  • Hours slept
  • Snoring (captured on a snore microphone)
  • Brain activity and stages of sleep
  • Exhaled carbon dioxide levels

Here are several things to know before your child’s sleep study:

  • Have your child freshly showered with clean hair
  • Pajamas with a top and bottom are preferable
  • Feel free to bring a pillow and/or blanket from home, as well as any other items that may comfort your child
  • It takes about 45 minutes for us to set your child up for a sleep study, which we try to do as close to bedtime as possible
  • Sleep studies are typically painless unless a blood draw is needed

Our Specialists

Casey J. Burg, M.D.

Pulmonology
Sleep Medicine

Matthew B. Dennis, M.D.

Pulmonology
Sleep Medicine

Jennifer McWilliams, M.D.

Psychiatry
Sleep Medicine

Mark C. Wilson, M.D.

Pulmonology
Sleep Medicine

Amber J. Widstrom, PA-C

Sleep Medicine

What To Do Next

For Patients

A referral is not needed to schedule a Sleep Clinic appointment.

A referral is needed for an appointment at the Sleep Lab. Your child’s pediatrician or a sleep disorder specialist will need to place an order for them to undergo a sleep study.

For more information, call 402-955-7378.

For Referring Providers

The Physicians’ Priority Line is your 24-hour link to pediatric specialists at Children’s for referrals, emergency and urgent consults, physician-to-physician consults, admissions, and transport services. Call 855-850-KIDS (5437).

To refer a patient to our Sleep Clinic, fill out this form and fax it to 402-955-3693.

To refer a patient for a sleep study, fill out this form and fax it to 402-955-3693.

Learn more about referring patients.

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