Sleep in Preschoolers: Memory, Health, and Environment
Dr. Andrew Gall and Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown
Insufficient sleep is a public health concern. The National Institutes of Health have reported that preschoolers need 11-12 hours of sleep daily. Good sleep hygiene includes going to bed at the same time each night, rising at the same time each morning, and avoiding light sources in the evening. However, children today spend more time in front of screens than any previous generation. It is not yet known how these devices affect sleep, memory, and health in preschoolers, at a time when sleep need is very high and sleep patterns are being shaped for the rest of the child’s life. In this study, we are measuring the amount of sleep and amount of light at night received by children. The data will be gathered by asking parents to fill out a sleep journal for their preschooler(s) for four weeks and by asking a subset of children (n=20) to wear a FitBit. Also, a survey will be distributed to the teachers and parents asking about sleep and general behavior of the preschooler. We will assess the relationships between sleep and light at night with health (BMI), memory performance, and activity preference. We expect to find a negative correlation between sleep and preschoolers’ BMI scores, such that greater amounts of sleep will be associated with lower (healthier) BMI percentiles. In addition, we expect to find a positive correlation between sleep and memory performance. Finally, we predict that increased light at night will be negatively correlated with sleep quality and quantity. This project seeks to increase awareness of the importance of sleep in young children. If parents appreciate the importance of sleep, this will likely lead to healthier lives in their children, and the children will have an excellent opportunity to reach their fullest potential.
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