Sleep Medicine - Patient Care and Treatment

Sleep Medicine - Patient Care and Treatment

Learn about children’s sleep medicine treatments at Penn State Children’s Hospital Pediatric Sleep Medicine. 

For questions about sleep-related health problems or testing


Find the cause of sleep problems

At Penn State Children’s Hospital Pediatric Sleep Medicine, our compassionate care team uses the best technology available to address your child’s sleep problems.

Penn State Sleep Research and Treatment Center can pin point the causes of sleep-related health problems and work with you to build a care plan for your child.

We treat common sleep disorders, including:

  • Sleep apnea (short periods of not breathing during sleep)
  • Apnea of prematurity (short periods of not breathing in infants)
  • Insomnia (trouble falling or staying asleep)
  • Restless sleep
  • Narcolepsy (trouble staying awake)

You need a referral to make an appointment, but feel free to call us at 717-531-8520 with any questions.


At your first appointment, if we think your child may have certain sleep problems (such as sleep apnea, nocturnal events or narcolepsy), we may order more tests. These may include:

  • Sleep studies (also called a polysomnogram) to assesses sleep quality. During this test, your child spends a night in our lab while monitors record brain waves, eye movements, muscle tone, breathing, heart rate and rhythm, and leg movements.
  • Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) to record brain and body activity at different times during the day. It helps measure sleepiness, ability to fall asleep and the likelihood of narcolepsy.
  • Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT) to record brain activity at different times during the day to check the ability to stay awake. 
  • Actigraphy to record a child’s activity and rest with sensors.
  • Overnight oximetry to track heart rate and blood oxygen levels during sleep (a small monitor is clipped on the finger).

Sleep problems we treat

Here’s list of sleep disorders we treat, as well as common symptoms.

Sleep-disordered breathing

  • Snoring
  • Noisy breathing
  • Mouth breathing
  • Apneas (short periods of not breathing during sleep)


  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Resisting bedtime
  • Problems getting to sleep
  • Frequent nighttime waking
  • Trouble with naps

Sleep-wake cycle problems

  • Trouble falling asleep or waking up on time
  • Reversed sleep-wake times (long naps, short nighttime sleep)
  • Shifts in sleep rhythms

Sleepy teenagers

  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Staying up late, sleeping late on weekends (“night owls”)
  • Feeling sleepy during the day, often taking naps or dozing off in class
  • Not getting enough sleep or erratic sleep schedule

Excessive daytime sleepiness

  • Noticeable daytime sleepiness
  • Moodiness (mood swings)
  • Hyperactivity (can’t sit still)
  • Trouble focusing or learning
  • Poor memory
  • Narcolepsy (trouble staying awake) and other health problems that cause sleepiness
  • Sleeping longer than needed for his or her age

Activity during sleep (parasomnias and nighttime events)

  • Sleep terrors (not waking up all the way, crying, screaming, thrashing, looking upset or frightened)
  • Sleepwalking and sleep talking (while only partly awake)
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • Bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis)

Restless leg syndrome (RLS)

  • Restlessness or unpleasant feelings in legs during the evening or at bedtime
  • Symptoms get better with activity
  • Symptoms get worse with rest
  • Family history of parents or other relatives with similar symptoms
  • Periodic limb movements in sleep (leg or arm jerks while asleep, restless sleep)

Treating and managing sleep disorders 

Often, we can help your child get more normal sleep with behavior strategies first. We will work with you and your child and suggest ways to create consistent sleep patterns.

If your child has certain sleep-related health problems, we may prescribe medicines that help with sleep or staying awake. We may suggest adjusting other medicines your child takes.

If your child has obstructive sleep apnea breathing is partially or fully blocked during sleep. The most common cause in children is enlarged adenoids and tonsils. We may want to get an opinion from one of our surgeons who specialize in otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat) for possible removal (adenotonsillectomy).

In obese children, fat deposits in the airway often cause breathing trouble. Weight loss is an important part of treatment and we will refer your child to our weight loss clinic. Sometimes, we prescribe continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Your child wears a mask at night that that blows air to keep the airway open during sleep.

Contact us

Phone: 717-531-8520
Fax: 717-531-0678