Background and Aims:
The presentation aims at summarizing current knowledge about sleep in children and adolescents and at describing possible factors influencing their sleep.
For preschoolers, there is evidence that objectively assessed (sleep-EEG, actigraphy) poor sleep is associated with increased endocrine activity; this is to say, with increased morning cortisol secretion, an associative pattern observed so far only in adults. Furthermore, poor sleep and increased cortisol secretion are associated with emotional and behavioral difficulties.
During life span, notable changes occur with respect to sleep quantity and quality. Compared to childhood, in adolescence, three prominent changes occur: First, sleep quantity declines from about 10 hours at 10 years of age to between 6.5 and 8.5 hours in older adolescents. Second, a marked shift towards a longer sleep duration and later bed time from school nights to weekend nights is observable. Third, daytime sleepiness (20%) and insomnia symptoms (25%) are common among adolescents.
Among a variety of factors affecting adolescents’ sleep, we could show that negative parenting styles unfavorably influenced adolescents’ sleep quality, suggesting that even 18 years old adolescents may be far away from been emotionally independent from their parents. Furthermore, the so-called weekend-shift was correlated with increased sleepiness during the week, suggesting that irregular sleep schedules may negatively influence sleep quality and daytime functioning.
Last, if compared to healthy controls, children and adolescents after cleft lip and palate (CLP) repair were not at risk reporting sleep difficulties; rather, irrespective of the presence of CLP, sleep was affected by psychological strain.