Manipulating sleep duration alters emotional functioning and cognitive performance in children

J Pediatr Psychol. 2013 Nov;38(10):1058-69. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jst033. Epub 2013 May 28.


Objective: To examine the impact of sleep duration on emotional functioning and cognitive performance in children.

Methods: 32 children (8-12 years) wore actigraphs for 3 weeks. Following a week of typical sleep, each child was randomly assigned to go to bed 1 hr earlier for 4 nights (Long Sleep) or 1 hr later for 4 nights (Short Sleep) relative to their typical bedtime. Each child then completed the opposite condition. After each week, emotional and cognitive functioning were assessed using objective and subjective measures.

Results: Results revealed impaired functioning in the Short- relative to the Long-Sleep condition on measures of positive affective response, emotion regulation, short-term memory, working memory, and aspects of attention.

Conclusions: Results suggest that even modest differences in sleep duration over just a few nights can have significant consequences for children's daytime functioning. These findings demonstrate the important impact of sleep duration on children's daytime functioning.

Keywords: children; cognitive assessment; mental health; psychosocial functioning; sleep.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy
  • Child
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Time Factors