A Canadian university has announced a new research programme that will focus on the links between child sleep and development. The upcoming study at Western University, Ontario, will specifically look at the neurological functions that occur during a child’s sleep, and follow associations with health and behaviour along with developmental progress.
Current figures suggest that between 15% and 30% of children aged two to five years old have sleep problems of some description, ranging from difficulty in falling asleep when going to bed right through to trouble sleeping the entire night. Sleep deprivation can have a dramatically negative effect on children in various ways, with anxiety, hyperactivity and mood problems being reported in those with sleep disorders. As well as the developmental problems that poor sleep can cause in childhood there is the additional issue of affecting academic performance when they reach school age.
“The more we can encourage the timely treatment of sleep problems and the safe-guarding of sleep during childhood, the better,” said Kathryn Turnbull, a PhD candidate. “I hope this research will inform both clinical and research definitions of what constitutes mild versus clinically-significant sleep problem, and more importantly, the possible effects that the sleep problem will have on the child.”
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