Sleep in the pediatric population is ever-changing with sleep-specific characteristics and behaviors constantly changing as the child grows. In order to properly treat pediatric patients, sleep technologists need to have a thorough understanding of the stages of sleep development and know the signs of abnormal sleep behaviors.
Knowing how to properly score a polysomnogram (PSG) is a must for the sleep technologist, and understanding pediatric and infant scoring rules is crucial for those who work with this population as sleep issues can greatly impact growth and overall health as infants and children age into adulthood.
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Sleep plays a critical role in the early stages of development in children. It is important to focus not only on the quantity of sleep received but also the quality. While the methods of measuring and evaluating sleep quality are similar to that of adults, there are differences that sleep technologists must consider when testing pediatric patients.
There are differences between adult sleep apnea and pediatric sleep apnea. Adults usually have daytime sleepiness, while children are more likely to have behavioral problems. The underlying cause in adults is often obesity; in children, the most common underlying condition is enlargement of the adenoids and tonsils. However, obesity also plays a role in children. Other underlying factors can be craniofacial anomalies and neuromuscular disorders. Pediatric sleep disorders increasingly interfere with daily patient and family functioning. Interest in and treatment of sleep disturbances in youth continues to grow, but research lags. One survey indicated that pediatricians were more likely to prescribe antidepressant medications for insomnia than psychiatrists. Further investigation is needed to develop fact-based diagnosis and treatment of pediatric sleep disorders.