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Sleep physiology and sleep-disordered breathing: the essentials
  1. Robert Primhak,
  2. Ruth Kingshott
  1. Sleep Unit, Sheffield Children's Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Robert Primhak, Sheffield Children's Hospital, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TH, UK; r.a.primhak{at}


Sleep is essential, but poses a risk to breathing in some children. We have outlined the developmental changes in sleep patterns and physiology, and the evidence of deleterious effects of sleep deprivation and of sleep-related breathing disorder (SRBD). Some factors increase the risk of adenotonsillar surgery and should be excluded before contemplating surgery in a secondary care setting. Screening for SRBD is indicated in some conditions, which are discussed. Although simple studies may suffice for many patients, there are a few who need more detailed assessment with polysomnography. A managed clinical network would be the most appropriate model to ensure appropriate organisation and utilisation of scarce resources in this area.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.