Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Asleep on the Job: Tweens Take Part in Sleep Study

19.02.2010
We spend a third of our lives asleep, but scientists don’t exactly know why.

“There are so many theories out there … but it’s still one of the great unsolved mysteries of science,” says Jenn Vriend, a PhD student in clinical psychology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, whose research area is sleep. “We do know there are some restorative effects, a need to be refreshed. And we think sleep affects our learning processes and emotions.”

Napoleon claimed he only needed a few hours shut eye a night. And Margaret Thatcher famously boasted that she needed five hours of sleep when she was the prime minister of Britain. But most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night and children need more, about 10 to 11 hours a night.

But these days, there is so much to keep kids awake later. There’s just one more video game to play; friends to message or talk to; and please, please, please mom and dad – Lost starts tonight and it won’t be over until 11 p.m.

“These are the kinds of things that are pushing bedtimes back later and later,” says Ms. Vriend, who knows a thing or two about sleep deprivation as the mom of an active 11-month-old baby. “And yet, it’s not like school start times have changed.”

Ms. Vriend is embarking on a study to see how restricting sleep affects the behaviors, cognition and emotions of children aged eight to 12 years old. Can even minor changes in sleep impair a school kid’s learning, memory, attention and concentration? How about their mood? (Ask any parent who has woken up a growly teenager who went to bed late and they’d probably say yes.)

“There are hardly any studies on sleep and learning among children,” she explains. “I realized someone needs to look at this.”

Previous studies of adults have found that sleep deprivation significantly impairs the brain’s “executive control system,” which helps people organize, prioritize, and focus on tasks. But few studies have focused on children. Those few have tended to examine extreme rather than modest sleep deprivation, she says.

For the study, participants wear an actigraph, a device on the wrist like a watch that detects movement. Information gleaned from the actigraph is used to determine the children's sleep schedule— the time they fell asleep, how long they sleep and whether they wake during the night. The information from the actigraph corelates to a sleep diary completed by parents which notes such things as when the lights went out, wake up times and naps.

With the approximate bedtimes and waketimes established over the first week, the participants will then be randomly assigned to either shorten their sleep length by one hour for four nights in a row (bedtime one hour later) or to lengthen their sleep by one hour (bedtime one hour earlier). Each child then switches to the opposite schedule for the third week of the study. After each of the three weeks, children will come to the laboratory to be tested for their ability to think, learn and regulate their emotions.

Ten-year-old Briana McNamara was happy to do her part for science by taking part in the sleep study. “I really liked it and I liked wearing the actigraph,” says the Grade 5 student who normally gets 10 hours of sleep each night. “It felt cool explaining it to everyone.”

And she says she learned something about herself. Going to bed later sometimes gave her a mild headache and made her tired at school. “I found out that if I get more sleep, I wake up feeling much more active,” she says.

Others involved in this study include co-investigator, Fiona Davidson, a masters student at Mount Saint Vincent University, and Ms. Vriend’s supervisors, Penny Corkum and Ben Rusak. The sleep study is supported by a grant from the Dalhousie Psychiatry Research Fund and a Student Research Award from the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation.

Charles Crosby
Senior Advisor, Media
Dalhousie University
902.494.1269
charles.crosby@dal.ca

Charles Crosby | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.dal.ca

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>