SSM Health adds pediatric sleep medicine to program

February 5, 2020

Childhood sleep deprivation is a common problem. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that between 25% and 30% of normally developing children and adolescents are not getting enough sleep consistently.

In children, lack of sleep is known to cause poor attention, lower grades, school absences, poor social interactions, irritability and increased stress.
Children and adults behave differently as a result of sleepiness. Adults usually become sluggish when tired, while children tend to overcompensate and become more active. For this reason, sleep deprivation is sometimes confused with ADHD in children.

In a study from the National Sleep Foundation involving 2,463 children ages 6-15, children with sleep problems were more likely to be inattentive, hyperactive, impulsive, and display oppositional behaviors.

Sleep deprivation can present itself in several ways. For some it’s the quantity of sleep, for others, it is the quality of sleep. Some children may have a medical sleep problem that is causing sleep disruption, leading to overall sleep deprivation. Common treatable medical sleep disorders in children include obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless legs syndrome. Oftentimes, children may not be able to describe their symptoms and that is where parents and clinicians may need to look for other clues. It is important for parents to discuss any signs or symptoms with the child’s healthcare provider.

Recently, SSM Health expanded their Sleep Medicine program to include pediatrics with the addition of Dr. Hayley Martins, a pediatrician, who specializes in adult and pediatric sleep medicine. “The community is blessed to have the addition of Pediatric Sleep Services at St. Mary’s Hospital to serve the region,” shares Damon Harbison, President, SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital. “This new program with Dr. Martins leading the way, provides access to the children in our area so that they no longer have to travel far distances or forgo the testing due to location. The entire sleep services team is eager to provide exceptional care to your entire family.”
When seeing a new patient, Dr. Martins always asks about sleep patterns. “Many kids aren’t getting the recommended amount of sleep required for optimal health. A lot of things happen when we sleep, including memory consolidation and growth. If sleep is fragmented or cut short, many hormones such as growth hormones, insulin, stress and satiety hormones are affected” Martins said. “If a child is exhibiting signs of sleepiness (through symptoms such as excessive napping or hyperactivity) we would dig deep to figure out if it is quantity or quality (or both) of sleep that is the issue.”

If your healthcare provider feels that your child is suffering from a medical sleep disorder, a sleep study or polysomnogram may be recommended. A sleep study is a test that measures body functions during sleep. Performing a sleep study on a child is the same as conducting a study on an adult. During the night of study, the child will sleep at the hospital in the sleep lab and be monitored by sleep technologists.

Andy Davis, manager of Neurosciences at SSM Health, describes what to expect during a sleep study. “When you come to the Sleep Center, you will be greeted by our friendly and professional staff. We have a room specially set up for our pediatric patients with books for bedtime stories, a television, DVD player, and movies. We try our best to provide all of the comforts of home and to make the environment as stress free as possible.”

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following sleep times:
• Infants 12 – 15 hours per night
• Toddler 11 – 14 hours per night
• Pre-school 10 – 13 hours per night
• School age (up to 13 years) 9-11 hours per night
• Teen (up to 17 years) 8 – 10 hours per night

If you or your child are experiencing sleep issues, please contact SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital Sleep Disorder Center at 618-436-8635. All pediatric sleep patients must see Dr. Martins for an initial evaluation prior to scheduling a sleep study. For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Martins please call 618-899-3513.

Pictured (L-R) are Andy Davis, Neurosciences Manager; a pediatric sleep patient; and Dr. Hayley Martins.