Meet Dr. Anjalee Warrier Galion

CHOC Children’s wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Anjalee Warrier Galion, a pediatric neurologist and sleep specialist.

Dr. Anjalee Warrier Galion
Dr. Anjalee Warrier Galion

Q: What is your education and training?
A: I attended the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey- New Jersey Medical School, and completed my residency in pediatrics at University of San Francisco, Fresno.  During my academic year, I worked for Walter Reed Army Institute of Research to help identify a vaccine for malaria. My second day was September 11, 2011, and it was an amazing, humbling, and scary experience to be a part of the military for this day. My first fellowship was in pediatric neurology at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and my second fellowship was in sleep medicine at the University of California Los Angeles- Cedars Sinai Sleep Medicine Fellowship.

Q: What are your administrative appointments?
A: Assistant clinical professor at UCI, assistant program director for the UCI child neurology residency program, chair of the junior faculty leadership council, and co-chair of the sleep workgroup for the National Autism Treatment Network.

Q: What are your special clinical interests?
A: Sleep disorders in children with neurologic diseases such as epilepsy and autism, as well as sleep and cognition.

Q: Are you involved in any current research?

A: Evaluation of efficacy of specific sedative hypnotics in children with Autism spectrum disorder, and Identification of sleep architecture and pathology in children with epilepsy.

Q: How long have you been on staff at CHOC?
A: Four years.

Q: What are some new programs or developments within your specialty?
A: CHOC is one of the few, if only, hospitals in the country doing combined long-term video EEG as well as polysomnography (sleep study).  This allows us a very unique opportunity to look at the brain activity and pathology in sleep. Multidisciplinary sleep clinics involving psychology and pulmonology are also unique. Also, identification and treatment of a variety of pediatric sleep disorders including all types of insomnia, narcolepsy and parasomnias, such as sleepwalking, sleep talking and night terrors.

Q: What are your most common diagnoses?
A: Insomnia, narcolepsy, sleepwalking (or somnambulism).

Q: What would you most like patients and families to know about you or your division at CHOC?
A: We treat all types of sleep-related disorders and are providing state-of-the-art care for children with sleep disorders. It is estimated that more than 30 percent of children have sleep-related disorders, and improvement in sleep is essential for learning and cognition. Research suggests improved sleep supports optimal athletic performance as well. If there is any concern for a sleep-related disorder we are happy to help evaluate these children.

Q:  What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?
A: We treat every child with the highest level of care and the physicians genuinely care for the patients and our community.

Q: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
A: I had been interested in neuroscience since I was a Howard Hughes fellow at the University of Maryland, having done work in spinal cord regeneration. I heard a talk in my first year of medical school about pediatric neurology and haven’t looked back since.

Q: If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?
A: If I was not a physician I would mostly likely be a PhD working in the field of neurobiology and sleep medicine. Both my parents were PhDs and I grew up hearing about fascinating advances in the world of science, so I have been drawn to science and research from a young age. For quite a few years I was strongly considering becoming a professional flute player. I was fortunate enough to travel through Italy with my youth symphony and performed around the country in orchestras, but science drew me in by the time I was in college.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
A: I enjoy hosting parties and events for family and friends. Our family enjoys traveling and spending time together.

Q: What have you learned from your patients?
A: The best part about working with pediatric patients is that you are constantly reminded to enjoy life and be grateful for every day. The smallest things can make a child happy, like playing with a light-up toy or seeing bubbles, and it is a great reminder to take pleasure in all the simple things around us every day.

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Tips for Avoiding Pediatric Sleep Disorders and Coping with Daylight Saving Time

By Dr. Anjalee W. Galion,  CHOC Children’s neurologist

Losing an hour of sleep as we “spring forward” to daylight saving time can wreak havoc on sleep schedules this week, especially children who already struggle with sleeping problems. Due to their developing brains, children can be particularly sensitive to sleep deprivation.

According to the National Pediatric Sleep Foundation, about 71 percent of infants wake at least once, and 21 percent of infants wake up three or more times per night.  Thirty percent of parents report their children have difficulty with sleeping – – across all ages.

Signs and symptoms of pediatric sleep disorders

Dr. Anjalee Galion, CHOC Children's Neurologist
Dr. Anjalee Galion, CHOC Children’s Pediatric Neurologist

Sleep -deprived children exhibit symptoms differently than adults.  Adults usually experience general daytime sleepiness, whereas children tend to display sleepiness in a variety of ways, such as showing traits of inattention and hyperactivity that are sometimes mistaken for ADHD.  Additionally, sleep deprivation in children causes physical stress, which can contribute to difficulty initiating and maintaining sleep.  Many parents might recognize this trend when trying to keep their children awake until late at night, which can actually lead to children having trouble staying asleep and waking up earlier than normal.

Turn off the TV

The blue light emitted by all screens (TV, computer, smart phones, tablet devices, etc.) can interfere with the way the brain identifies day and night. The brain uses the eyes to give cues to lightness and darkness to set the body’s internal clock, also known as the circadian rhythm. Having “screen time” throughout the day, and especially at night makes it difficult for the body to identify day and night and can cause significant difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

The National Sleep Foundation found that children with TVs in their rooms are most likely to be among the worst sleepers. The presence of the screen, even if it is turned off, activates the brain and makes it more difficult to go to sleep and stay asleep. Children who get more sleep are more likely to read books as part of their bedtime routines, instead of time in front of a screen. It’s best to encourage children to enjoy reading in the few hours before bedtime.

Daylight saving time tips

Adhering to a consistent sleep schedule – as close as possible to a child’s normal routine – is particularly important during this time.  As easy as it may be to permit kids, who don’t feel sleepy or can’t sleep as a result of the longer days, to stay up later, such a habit will disrupt sleep patterns. The use of blackout shades and a timed night light can serve as consistent cues for little ones, letting them know when it’s time to sleep and time to wake up.

Dr. Anjalee W. Galion is a CHOC Children’s pediatric neurologist who is also fellowship trained in sleep medicine. She is actively involved in pediatric sleep medicine research having completed National Institutes of Health – National institute for Neurologic Disorder and Stroke clinical trials fellowship. She has also developed protocols to improve sleep in children with autism.  Dr. Galion is also trained in cognitive behavioral therapy for sleep disorders and has authored a book chapter on the evolution of insomnia from children to adults.  She is actively involved with reading sleep studies and in the comprehensive diagnostic evaluation of children with all types of sleep disorders. 

More articles about healthy sleep and kids:

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  • Meet Dr. Anjalee Warrier Galion
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    Healthy sleep is critical for children and teens. Sleep disorders, such as problems falling asleep and sleep apnea, affect your child’s ability to get the sleep needed for good growth, ...