If your child is having certain types of sleep problems, the best way to understand his situation may be for sleep specialists to actually watch him sleeping and monitor his body while he’s asleep. These tests are called sleep studies.
For most sleep studies, your child comes to a sleep laboratory in the evening and goes home the next morning. Sleep studies are also called polysomnograms; the procedure is called polysomnography (PSG).
Sleep studies help your child’s doctor diagnose certain sleep problems and see how well treatments are working.
- Sleep studies are the best tests to diagnose sleep problems such as obstructive sleep apnea.
- During a sleep study, we monitor your child’s brainwaves, eye and limb movements, muscle tone, heart rate and rhythm and breathing.
- To get these measurements, we place painless sensors on your child’s body. We also take a video of your child sleeping and record his breathing sounds.
Another type of sleep study is a multiple sleep latency test (MSLT), a study done during the daytime that helps your child’s doctor diagnose specific sleep problems such as narcolepsy.
How Boston Children's Hospital approaches sleep studies
The sleep laboratories at Boston Children’s are part of our Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders (CPSD), which was established in 1978. Founded by pediatric sleep medicine authority Richard Ferber, MD, the center is now under the leadership of interim director Sanjeev Kothare, MD. At the CPSD, specialists from several different fields—including neurology, pulmonology, developmental medicine and nursing—work together to care for children and to advance our understanding of children’s sleep disorders.
Importantly, all of our doctors, nurses and sleep lab technologists specialize in working with children, and every aspect of what we do is designed specifically for children.
We have sleep laboratory locations in both Boston and Waltham.