A photo of Kelly C. Byars.

Pediatric Psychologist, Clinical, Behavioral Medicine & Clinical Psychology

Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



Board Certified

My Biography & Research


As a pediatric sleep psychologist, my clinical and research programs focus on helping pediatric patients and their families get the sleep they need to stay healthy. I work closely with other medical subspecialties, including pulmonary medicine, neurology and otolaryngology, to evaluate and treat pediatric sleep disorders. These include insomnia, hypersomnia (excessive sleep), parasomnia (disruptive disorders that occur during sleep) and sleep-disordered breathing.

Getting adequate sleep is critical to a healthy life. When I was training as a pediatric psychologist, it was evident to me that many children and families living with medical and behavioral health concerns also had trouble getting enough sleep. During my fellowship training at Cincinnati Children’s, I decided to pursue a professional career dedicated to improving sleep in children with health conditions that compromise sleep.

I am board certified in behavioral sleep medicine and in child and adolescent psychology. I direct Cincinnati Children’s Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program. Under my direction, this program is committed to providing treatments for sleep disorders that are guided by research findings and adapted to the unique needs of each patient and family.

In my clinic, I practice family-centered care and offer practical and effective treatment guided by patient and caregiver goals. My team and I work to strengthen the connection between your body’s natural sleep rhythm, environment, and unique habits, practices, beliefs and daily routines. Behavioral sleep medicine treatment is usually effective within one to two months of starting.

My current research efforts are closely tied to my clinical practice. They are focused in the following key areas:

  • Optimizing the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy for pediatric insomnia
  • Helping children and families overcome barriers to using positive airway pressure therapy for treatment of obstructive sleep apnea
  • Developing standards of behavioral sleep medicine care for youth with hypersomnia
  • Better understanding the relationship between chronic pain and sleep in youth

I’m pleased to be recognized as a fellow by the American Psychological Association, an honor that acknowledges my clinical care, applied clinical research and training for outstanding contributions to the field of professional psychology. I am also proud to direct one of only a few pediatric behavioral sleep medicine training programs in the U.S. that has accreditation by the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine. Lastly, board certification by the American Board of Professional Psychology and the Board of Behavioral Sleep Medicine are markers of my specialized training and competence in pediatric psychology and pediatric behavioral sleep medicine.

When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my family, attending my three children’s many extracurricular activities and following my favorite sports teams. I also enjoy cooking and baking, reading, biking, walking our dogs and trips to the beach.

Clinical Interests

Pediatric behavioral sleep medicine

Academic Affiliation

Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


Behavioral Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, Sleep Disorders, Clinical Psychology

My Locations

My Education

PsyD: Georgia School of Professional Psychology, Atlanta, GA, 1998.

Residency: Clinical Psychology / Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, The Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.

Fellowship: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2000.

Certification: Licensure in Psychology, State of Ohio, 2000; National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology, 2001; Certification in Behavioral Sleep Medicine, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, June 2005.

My Publications

Utility of the Sleep Disorders Inventory for Students in Clinically Referred Youth With Insomnia: Risk Identification and Relationship With Polysomnographic Measures. Graef, DM; Byars, KC. Behavioral Sleep Medicine. 2020; 18:249-261.

Topical Review: A Biopsychosocial Framework for Pediatric Narcolepsy and Idiopathic Hypersomnia. Graef, DM; Byars, KC; Simakajornboon, N; Dye, TJ. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 2020; 45:34-39.

Mental Health Diagnoses and Symptoms in Preschool and School Age Youth Presenting to Insomnia Evaluation: Prevalence and Associations with Sleep Disruption. Van Dyk, TR; Becker, SP; Byars, KC. Behavioral Sleep Medicine. 2019; 17:790-803.

Rates of mental health symptoms and associations with self-reported sleep quality and sleep hygiene in adolescents presenting for insomnia treatment. Van Dyk, TR; Becker, SP; Byars, KC. The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2019; 15:1433-1442.

Rates of Mental Health Symptoms and Associations With Self-Reported Sleep Quality and Sleep Hygiene in Adolescents Presenting for Insomnia Treatment. Van Dyk, TR; Becker, SP; Byars, KC. The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2019; 15:1433-1442.

Links between sleep and daytime behaviour problems in children with Down syndrome. Esbensen, AJ; Hoffman, EK; Beebe, DW; Byars, KC; Epstein, J. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. 2018; 62:115-125.

Inter professional teamwork: A case study examining the practice patterns and perceptions of pediatric psychologists. Ernst, M; Filigno, SS; Cortina, S; Byars, K; Guilfoyle, S; McClure, J; Smolyansky, B; Kichler, J; Pai, A. 2017; 2:1-9.

American Academy of Pediatrics 2016 Safe Sleep Practices: Implications for Pediatric Behavioral Sleep Medicine. Byars, KC; Simon, SL. Behavioral Sleep Medicine. 2017; 15:175-179.

Validation of a Brief Insomnia Severity Measure in Youth Clinically Referred for Sleep Evaluation. Byars, KC; Simon, SL; Peugh, J; Beebe, DW. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 2017; 42:jsw077-jsw077.

Use of Sleep Evaluations and Treatments in Children with Down. Esbensen, AJ; Beebe, DW; Byars, KC; Hoffman, EK. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. 2016; 37:629-636.