Choosing Wisely:

Don’t prescribe medication to treat childhood insomnia, which usually arises from parent-child interactions and responds to behavioral intervention.

Rationale and Comments: No medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of pediatric insomnia. Because childhood insomnia usually arises due to parent-child interactions, treatment should involve efforts to improve relevant parent and child behavior, establish better sleep hygiene, and manage expectations. Basic environmental, scheduling, sleep practice, and physiological features should be optimized before hypnotic use is considered for children. When necessary, hypnotics should be used short term, with caution and close monitoring for efficacy and side effects. Some children with significant developmental delay or cognitive impairment may not respond to behavioral management and may benefit from judicious use of hypnotics.
Sponsoring Organizations:
  • American Academy of Sleep Medicine
  • Sources:
  • Expert consensus
  • Disciplines:
  • Pediatric
  • References: • Owens JA, Babcock D, Blumer J, Chervin R, Ferber R, Goetting M, Glaze D, Ivanenko A, Mindell J, Rappley M, Rosen C, Sheldon S. The use of pharmacotherapy in the treatment of pediatric insomnia in primary care: rational approaches. A consensus meeting summary. J Clin Sleep Med. 2005;1(1):49-59.
    • Owens JA, Mindell JA. Pediatric Insomnia. Pediatr Clin N Am. 2011;58(3):555-69.
    • Sheldon SH, Ferber R, Kryger MH, Gozal D, eds. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Sleep Medicine: second edition. London: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.

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