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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Oxford Children's Hospital

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Paediatric Non-Respiratory Sleep Service

Oxford University Hospitals provides a specialist service for children with a wide range of sleep problems.

These include the following conditions.

  • Parasomnias, such as sleepwalking and night terrors
  • Sleep difficulties in children with neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Circadian rhythm (body clock) disorders
  • Narcolepsy
  • Kline-Levin syndrome
  • Idiopathic hypersomnia
  • Movement disorders in sleep, including restless legs syndrome
  • Chronic insomnia
  • Disturbed sleep in children with epilepsy or suspected epilepsy, for example when nocturnal frontal lobe seizures are a possibility

Our team

Dr Dimitri Gavriloff

Dr Gavriloff is a clinical psychologist and sleep medicine specialist. His primary area of interest is in behavioural sleep medicine and his time is split between jointly running the paediatric non-respiratory sleep disorders service and his work at the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, University of Oxford.

Dr Kalaiyarasi Karthikeyan

Dr Karthikeyan is a specialty doctor in community paediatrics and sleep medicine. Her particular area of interest is sleep problems in children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dr Nadine McCrea

Dr McCrea is a consultant paediatric neurologist with a special interest in sleep disorders. Dr McCrea runs the paediatric narcolepsy service, and also sees children with complex neurological disorders and epilepsy.

Dr Mkael Symmonds

Dr Symmonds is a consultant clinical neurophysiologist with a special interest in sleep disorders. He runs the sleep service for adult patients, as well as reporting sleep studies for patients of all ages.

Dr Zenobia Zaiwalla

Dr Zaiwalla is an honorary consultant and sleep disorders specialist. She has retired from full time NHS practice, having led both the paediatric and adult non-respiratory sleep services for many years.

We also have additional consultant neurophysiologists and neurophysiology technicians working behind the scenes, facilitating and reporting our sleep studies, and a dedicated medical secretary.

Information for families

Ways to encourage good sleep habits

  • Physical exertion in the afternoon
  • Consistent daily bedtime
  • Last drink one to one and a half hour(s) before bed (reduced chance of bedwetting / getting up to toilet)
  • Avoid stimulating food and drink (e.g. sugar, caffeine)
  • Wind-down time in the hour before attempting to settle to sleep (calming activities e.g. reading, board games, calming music)
  • No screens (television, phones, tablets) for at least one hour before bed
  • No television in bedroom
  • Low light during settling; red coloured light if night light is needed (does not interfere with natural melatonin production)
  • Having a transitional object (e.g. a soft toy) to develop sleep confidence and a healthy sleep association
  • Working towards child falling asleep by themselves in their own bed
  • Limit setting on 'fussing' after 'lights out': 'I am going to give you one last kiss then it's time to sleep'
  • Reducing attention given after 'lights out' to prevent reinforcing messages of attention (e.g. avoid eye contact / conversation)

Resources

Below are some very helpful resources on sleep.

Good sleep habits for children with learning difficulties (in fact applicable to all children):

Encouraging good sleep habits in children with learning disabilities - www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk (pdf)

For young children, behavioural sleep advice and common sleep disorders:

www.babysleep.com

For older children with sleep disorders:

Teens: healthy lifestyle - raisingchildren.net.au

For children and young people with narcolepsy:

www.narcolepsy.org.uk

Referrals

Paediatric Non-Respiratory Sleep Service referrals