"These findings have implications for how we understand attention problems in kids," said lead author Gahan Fallone, PhD, associate professor at the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Mo. "The children in our study were functioning well at school prior to the restricted sleep schedule. It's likely that other kids who are physiologically or psychologically at risk for learning or attention problems could be even more vulnerable to the negative effects of inadequate sleep."
Dr. Fallone spoke today at the American Medical Association's 24th annual Science Reporters Conference in Washington, D.C.
In the study, 74 healthy, academically successful children between the ages of 6 and 12 were monitored for a three-week period. During the first week of the study, they slept their normal amount. For the second two weeks, they went to bed a little earlier one week and much later than normal the other. Their teachers rated their academic performance and behavior at the end of each week. Results showed significantly lower ratings for academic performance and attention during the week that they slept fewer hours, despite the fact that teachers were not told which sleep schedule the kids were on.
To make sure the children actually slept their assigned number of hours at home, they kept sleep diaries, wore activity-monitoring devices and made bedtime and rise time phone calls to the E.P. Bradley Hospital Chronobiology and Sleep Research Laboratory in Providence, R.I., where the study
Contact: Marcie Johnson
American Medical Association