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Our Services | Overview

The Sleep Center offers comprehensive evaluation and treatment of pediatric sleep problems, from the most common to the most complex, tailored to your family’s needs. After an initial consultation, we will work with you to determine the best diagnostic tools and treatment options.

Diagnostic tools

Sleep studies

If we suspect your child has certain problems such as sleep apnea, unusual nighttime events or narcolepsy, we may order additional tests. Boston Children’s performs some 2,000 sleep studies per year, collecting as much data as we can while making children and families feel at home.To study how your child sleeps, we may recommend one or more of the following.

  • Overnight Sleep Study or Polysomnogram (PSG): You and your child spend the night in our sleep lab to assess sleep and to identify specific sleep disorders. It records brain waves, eye movements, muscle tone, breathing, oxygen levels, heart rate and rhythm and leg movements.
  • Daytime Nap Study or Mean Sleep Latency Test (MSLT): We record your child’s brain and body activity throughout the day to provide a measure of sleepiness and help make specific sleep disorder diagnoses such as narcolepsy.
  • Maintenance of Wakefulness (MWT): Another way to assess sleepiness by recording your child's brain and body activity throughout the day.
  • Overnight Oximetry: We place a plastic clip on your child's finger to track heart rate and blood oxygen content during sleep.

Actigraph monitor

During your clinic visit, our team will decide if an actigraph monitor is right for your child. An actigraph is a non-invasive, validated watch-like device that captures and stores data about activity levels that is converted through a computer program into sleep-wake patterns. Wearing this watch-like monitor for one to three weeks in the home setting allows us to track your child's activity and rest periods over a longer duration.


Behavioral modification for sleep problems

We specialize in helping children change their sleep behaviors.

A careful evaluation of a child's sleep schedule or sleep associations can yield clues to the problem's origins and potential treatments. Using an evidence-based approach, we can help you determine how many hours of sleep per day is best for your child and can help you establish a healthy sleep routine.

No matter what your child's sleep issues are currently, all of our sleep providers are broadly trained and ready to help you and your family. Our team also includes developmental pediatricians, a child psychologist specializing in behavioral sleep medicine, and our pediatric nurse practitioners have particular expertise in "Sleep Coaching" for infants and young children.

Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) therapy

CPAP/BiPAP are non-invasive treatments for sleep apnea (obstructive or central) that deliver air to your child via a mask to keep the airway open during sleep. Through careful titration, we can identify the right PAP pressure that a child with sleep apnea needs for better breathing during sleep.

  • CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, delivers air into the upper airway at an optimal constant pressure for your child.
  • BiPAP, or bilevel positive airway pressure, uses different air pressure levels for breathing in and out.

Other sleep treatments

In some circumstances, over-the-counter or prescription medications may be recommended to address your child’s sleep problems; we may also suggest adjustments in medications your child may already be taking. In special circumstances, we may refer your child to other specialists for help with sleep problems associated with conditions such as respiratory disorders, neuromuscular disease, developmental disorders, abnormalities in facial structure and seizures.