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The influence of emerging low mood symptoms on sleep in children: a pilot study

Authors Conroy D, Usoro, Hoffmann, Brower, Armitage

Received 28 July 2012

Accepted for publication 3 September 2012

Published 15 October 2012 Volume 2012:4 Pages 133—142

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NSS.S36460

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2


Deirdre A Conroy, Anameti Usoro, Robert F Hoffmann, Kirk J Brower, Roseanne Armitage

University of Michigan, Department of Psychiatry, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Purpose: Sleep disturbances can lead to the onset and relapse of psychiatric disorders. However, the age at which this relationship begins and the role of sleep disturbances in the trajectory to the onset of a psychiatric disorder are still not fully understood. The purpose of this study was to explore, based on self- and parental-reports of mood symptoms, subjective and objective sleep in young children who are at risk of developing a psychiatric disorder but who have not yet met diagnostic criteria.
Patients and methods: Twenty-one children (eleven girls) between the ages of 8 and 11 (mean age = 9.7 years, standard deviation = 1.1 years) were dichotomized into low mood (LM) and not low mood (NLM) groups based on scoring below or above the median threshold score on at least two of the following questionnaires: the Child Depressive Rating Scale (CDRS), Weinberg Screening Affective Scale (WSAS), and Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology (QIDS). The children completed sleep diaries and underwent two nights (for adaptation and baseline) of polysomnography. Sleep stages and sleep microarchitecture (alpha, sigma, beta, and delta) in the first half of the night, were analyzed.
Results: Self-reported sleep disturbance accounted for 72% of the variance (F[3, 20] = 15, P < 0.005) of the Weinberg Screening Affective Scale in LM children. LM children had fewer arousals at night, but awakened earlier than NLM children. Regardless of mood, girls had more sleep disturbance, as well as lower alpha, beta, and delta power in the first half of the night, compared to boys. Girls with LM had shorter sleep times and a lower percentage of rapid eye movement sleep.
Conclusions: Girls with and without LM, and without a clinical diagnosis of depression, showed more sleep disturbances than boys of the same age. Sleep disturbances evident early in life and in LM girls may reflect greater risk for future sleep or psychiatric disorders.

Keywords: depression, insomnia, EEG, pediatrics

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