How is daytime somnolence differentiated from childhood obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Updated: Feb 13, 2019
  • Author: Mary E Cataletto, MD; Chief Editor: Denise Serebrisky, MD  more...
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Daytime somnolence

Daytime somnolence is a common complaint among individuals with obstructive sleep apnea. For teens and adults, this may be the presenting concern that brings them to medical attention. However, keep in mind that not all children with excessive daytime somnolence have obstructive sleep apnea. Sleepiness during the day may be due to numerous factors in addition to sleep apnea. Many children are sleepy during the day simply because their parents do not have a clear idea as to how much sleep a child actually requires.

Chaotic sleep schedules with inconsistent bedtimes and rise times and with limited time allowed for sleep are major causes of daytime sleepiness and lassitude. Any evaluation for suspected sleep apnea must include a careful history with inquiries about sleep times, bedtime routines, and a description of the sleeping environment. Parents should be asked to complete a sleep diary for 1-2 weeks to evaluate whether a child is sleeping enough.

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