Insufficient Sleep: Tests and Diagnosis


What tests are used to diagnose insufficient sleep?

In order to determine a child’s baseline sleep patterns, doctors often request that a family keep a “sleep log” to record their child’s bedtimes, wake times and night waking.

Another way to assess a patient’s amount of sleep is to have the patient wear an “actigraphy watch,” usually for a week while sleeping normally at home. This device looks like a wristwatch, but instead of telling time, it records the patient’s movement, how much sleep occurs, how long it takes to fall asleep, how much time is spent awake throughout the night and the amount of light in the room.

In some cases, our doctors may recommend an overnight sleep study if they suspect that sleep disordered breathing or excessive movement may be decreasing sleep. Healthcare providers may also order blood tests to see if a thyroid problem or acid reflux is causing less sleep.

How do providers at Children’s Hospital Colorado make a diagnosis?

The most important part of diagnosing insufficient sleep is talking with the family to get a thorough sleep history. This conversation usually takes place with a physician or nurse practitioner specializing in assessing and treating sleep disorders. Your child’s medical providers may also recommend further evaluations to fully explore all possible reasons for insufficient sleep.