Growing Up with Good Sleep

Sleep Studies for Children at Lexington Sleep Solutions

At just nine years old, Hannah Shealy can tell you everything you need to know about having a sleep study. She has six of them under her belt.

“They stick stuff all over me,” she said. “Even my head!”

Hannah Shealy and her mom bed inside Lexington Sleep Solutions’ sleep lab before a sleep study

Hannah was born with a genetic disorder that keeps her face and skull bones from growing normally, which meant her nose and sinus passages tightened as she grew. The older Hannah got, the louder her snoring became—and the more difficult it was to get adequate sleep.

Sleep studies have guided her medical care. For a while, she wore a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask when she slept to keep her airway open.

“The sleep studies tell us how she’s sleeping and what might be wrong. The doctor uses the information to tell us what to do,” said Hannah’s mom Beth. “The studies helped us know when to have surgery and understand how she’s improved since the surgery.”

While good sleep is essential for all of us, it’s particularly important for children.

“It’s a vital function for brain development and well-being,” said Clarence E. Coker III, MD, a sleep medicine specialist at Lexington Sleep Solutions. “When children have adequate sleep, they’re improving the details and retrievability of their memory so they can perform better on tests, socially, in interactions with family and friends, and in sports.”

Dr. Clarence Coker

Dr. Coker said the signs of sleep apnea in children—from toddlers to 18 year olds—shouldn’t be ignored.

“Loud snoring—anything more than a soft snore—should be discussed with your family doctor,” he said.

Sleep walking, sleep terrors or restless sleep also indicate inadequate sleep. Other indicators may not be as obvious. Seizures, ear infections, enlarged tonsils and even attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder warrant a sleep consultation with your doctor.

While sleep apnea in adults frequently coincides with obesity, children with the problem may have trouble growing. “The brain doesn’t slow down and sleep enough to maintain the appropriate growth for their age,” said Dr. Coker.

If your child is having trouble in school, or has trouble waking up or staying awake, talk to a doctor who has a good understanding of sleep.

Hannah had her sleep studies at Lexington Sleep Solutions, Lexington Medical Center’s sleep lab that offers comprehensive care for sleep disorders, and sleep studies to diagnose a variety of sleep-related issues. There are three locations in the Midlands, including one in Northeast Columbia. The practice provides services for children ages three and up.

For each study, Hannah brings along a favorite doll and pillow. After coloring and watching a few cartoons on television in the room, which resembles a comfortable hotel room, Hannah is asleep by about 9:00 p.m., secure with her mother Beth sleeping beside her.

“It’s like a sleepover party,” Beth said to Hannah.

LexingtonSleepSolutions.com

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