Pediatric sleep and pain: etiologies, consequences, and clinical considerations

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: To examine current evidence of the relationship between sleep and pain from the neonatal period through adolescence. This review serves as a critical review of the literature and of the needs for future research on pediatric sleep and pain. Methods: The PubMed online database was queried from January 1, 1960, to March 1, 2020, producing 149 articles applicable to pain and sleep in the pediatric population. Of those, 97 articles were cited in this review with the key articles including over 3800 participants. Results: The pediatric literature supports the relationship between poor sleep (both sleep efficiency and nighttime awakenings) and subsequent risk for pain, especially among children with chronic disease. The reverse effect of pain on sleep is not yet well delineated. The key moderating factors explored in the literature are pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic therapies, psychologic health, and the etiology of pain. There is evidence that both altered sleep and pain early in life impact neurodevelopment, as seen by changes in sleep structure in clinical studies and alterations in brain development in animal models. Conclusions: The complicated relationship between sleep and pain is critically important during pediatric development when alterations to a normal sleep structure can have a lifelong impact. It is becoming clear that sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality exacerbate pain. Further research is needed into the complex alterations of sleep in chronic pain conditions as well as treatments to improve sleep in pediatric care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2281-2289
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the Department of Neurology and the Division of Neonatology at the University of Minnesota for their support of this review article.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright 2022 American Academy of Sleep Medicine. All rights reserved.


  • neonatal
  • neurodevelopment
  • pain
  • pediatric
  • sleep

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


Dive into the research topics of 'Pediatric sleep and pain: etiologies, consequences, and clinical considerations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this