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The relationship between sleep duration and working memory in children

Ashton, R; (2016) The relationship between sleep duration and working memory in children. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Background While sleep appears to have a robust relationship with working memory (WM) performance in adults, the picture in children is less clear. Aims The current study investigated the relationship between sleep duration and WM in children, with both correlational and experimental aspects to the design. The research also aims to clarify valid and effective ways to measure sleep duration with children in their home setting. Sample The participants were eight classes of children aged 9-10 years. A total of 220 children were involved, of which 107 experienced a sleep education intervention and 113 formed a control group. Methods Data were collected via sleep diaries, sleep knowledge questionnaires and tests of WM and attention. In each class, 10 children also wore an actigraph to record objective sleep data. The intervention was adapted from the ACES programme (Blunden, 2007b). Results Most sleep variables showed no significant correlation with WM scores at baseline. There was a negative association between diary sleep duration and verbal WM, which was not significant after controlling for socioeconomic status. Actigraphy showed no relationship between sleep duration and WM, but there was a positive correlation between sleep efficiency and visual WM when socioeconomic status was partialled out. The intervention had a sustained effect on sleep knowledge but not on sleep duration or efficiency. With regard to methodology, sleep diary data were not systematically affected by introducing actigraphy as an objective sleep measure. Repeated measurements proved difficult with this age group and there were higher dropout rates from sleep diary completion than from repeatedly wearing an actigraph. Conclusions The relationship between sleep and WM in 9-10 year old children is weak at best, but suggests that shorter sleep with higher efficiency is related to better WM scores. Sleep duration could be effectively measured by actigraphy alone, without sleep diaries. Sleep interventions may be more effective if targeted rather than universal, and future research could use a neurodevelopmental perspective to help explain why the relationship between sleep and WM appears to change with maturity.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The relationship between sleep duration and working memory in children
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third-party copyright material has been removed from this e-thesis.
Keywords: sleep, working memory, actigraphy, child
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1477204
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