Shorter or disrupted sleep during the first two years of life affects toddlers’ language development, according to a new study.
Dr. Piush Mandhane, a University of Alberta associate professor, and a team of researchers analyzed the sleep patterns of hundreds of babies. They found 17 per cent of babies slept less than 12 hours in a 24-hour period. When assessed at two years old, Mandhane says those babies lagged behind in learning.
“We found that the children who were short nighttime sleepers — so really didn’t have the time to consolidate their daytime learning and activities they were doing — they had a 10 point decrease in both cognitive outcomes and language outcomes,” Mandhane said.
“One standard deviation is 15 points. So 10 is quite a substantial number. That’s putting those children at a pretty significant disadvantage from a learning and language development perspective.”
Babies who had disrupted sleep due to issues like snoring or sleep apnea also had lower language scores at two years old, but no difference in cognitive scores.
Mandhane hopes the research encourages parents to consult their pediatrician about any sleep concerns early.
“There’s very few things you can intervene on to improve your children’s learning growth and development and this is one of them you can intervene on and it’s worth working on.”
Watch below: New research suggests sleep has a direct impact on a baby’s development. A team at the University of Alberta analyzed the sleep patterns of hundreds of babies and found 17 per cent of the babies slept less than 12 hours in a 24-hour period, and by two years old those babies lagged behind in learning.