Studying the Effects of Sleep Disruptions on Childhood Emotional Problems

A new study about to be published in the Journal Child Development is looking at whether sleep disruptions could cause more than a bit of sleepiness among children.  According to, the research from Auburn University is looking at how sleep disruptions affected emotional development and adjustment in more than 140 children, from a 50-mile radius of the university, as they progressed from third to fifth grades.

[Mona El-Sheikh, professor of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Human Sciences] said the six-year-long study is ongoing and researchers are still analyzing data from the students, now in seventh and eighth grade.

“What we hope to achieve is to look at changes in a larger window,” she said.

El-Sheikh said she hopes the study, funded with National Science Foundation grants, will be able to follow the students into adolescence and high school.

The children came from varying socio-economic backgrounds and were monitored in their homes, El-Sheikh said. Information was gathered from parents’ and children’s reports and sensors worn by the children at night, according to a release from the university.

El-Sheikh said sleep can be a protector for children, allowing them to cope with the changes in their lives.

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