Journal of sleep research

Trajectories of sleep and cardiac sympathetic activity indexed by pre-ejection period in childhood.

PMID 28093827


Fragmented and insufficient sleep has been implicated in disrupted autonomic nervous system activity during resting state conditions in typically developing children. Towards explication of these relations over development, the current study tested reciprocal relations between the development of sleep parameters (efficiency, duration, latency) and cardiac sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity indexed by pre-ejection period (PEP) during waking-resting state conditions throughout middle and late childhood. Whether sleep derives changes in PEP or vice versa was examined. A longitudinal design was employed and latent growth modelling was used to examine the research questions. During the first assessment, 282 children aged 9.44 years (65% European American, 35% African American) participated. Two more assessments followed, with a 1-year lag between consecutive study waves. Sleep was examined with 7 nights of actigraphy in the child's home. Controlling for many potential confounds (sex, race/ethnicity, body mass index and family socioeconomic status), higher sleep efficiency and more sleep minutes predicted increases in PEP (less SNS activity) over 3 years. PEP did not predict changes in sleep efficiency or duration over time and there were no significant effects for sleep latency. Findings highlight the probable direction of effects between these two key bioregulatory systems. High levels of cardiac SNS activity are associated with many negative health outcomes, and thus these findings may have important implications.