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Sleep problems are very common in children with many different types of medical conditions. The experienced pediatric sleep specialists at Children’s Mercy care for children in our Sleep Clinic and participate alongside other types of specialists in the 22q11.2 Clinic and JAWS (jaw, airway and sleep) Clinic.

Getting help for your child’s sleep problems

Any medical condition can affect the quality of a child’s sleep. Children with Down syndrome, neurodevelopmental differences like autism and ADHD, or genetic conditions such as Prader-Willi syndrome often experience significant sleep issues alongside their primary diagnosis.

Sleep studies for children with special needs

A sleep study is an effective way for your sleep doctor to understand what’s happening in your child’s brain and body while they are asleep. Children’s Mercy provides a child-friendly sleep lab experience, with technicians who are dedicated to working with kids of all ages and abilities.

We have a visual introduction to the sleep lab available for all families to help you know what to expect before your visit and talk about the steps of the sleep study with your child.

Watch a video and read about what to expect during a sleep study.

For children with sensory needs or significant anxiety about having a sleep study, we invite your family to visit the sleep lab for a tour, so you can meet the technicians and explore the equipment and surroundings before your child’s study.

You can also schedule an appointment with our sleep psychologist, who can help your child through a process of desensitization to the monitoring equipment by practicing at home for a period of time before the sleep study. This process uses materials that are similar to the sleep study tools, such as stickers on the head and legs to get used to the electrode sensors, a piece of tape around the finger to feel like the pulse oximeter, and medical gauze around their chest to mimic the heart monitors.

It’s important for families to know that sleep studies in children are very different than in adults. The way the study is run and scored in children is specific to pediatrics, so centers that primarily provide adult sleep studies may not provide results that will be helpful to your sleep doctor. Home sleep studies are not validated in children, so we recommend that all families have their sleep study at a pediatric facility for best results.

Treatment options for sleep conditions in children with medical complexity

Our first line of treatment for children with sleep problems is always to help your family optimize the sleep environment and manage your child’s behaviors and habits around sleep as much as possible. The results of your child’s sleep study may also identify an underlying condition, such as sleep apnea or limb movement disorder, that we can treat with appropriate interventions. In some cases, medication is necessary to give your child the best chance at restful sleep, but this is rarely the first tool we reach for.

If your child needs CPAP therapy for sleep apnea, our dedicated team in the CPAP Care Program will help you navigate insurance and medical equipment suppliers and work with your child to get acclimated to their CPAP device.

All your specialists in one place

Children’s Mercy sleep specialists are active members of the 22q11.2 Clinic and JAWS (jaw, airway and sleep) Clinic. If your child receives care in one of these team-based clinics, you’ll see several specialists in one appointment. All these providers work together with you to come up with a unified care plan for your child.

You might meet with each provider individually, or a small group of specialists might talk with you at the same time so they can collaborate immediately about your child’s care. At the end of your time in the clinic, the team will all meet together to discuss your child’s needs and then talk with you about the next steps for care.

Not part of one of these clinics? Get help with scheduling or coordinating multiple appointments in any department from our friendly team.