Deirdre Budd’s Blog

Archive for March 2010

 Jodi Mindell,Phd, Professor of Psychology at Saint Josephs University in Philadelphia,  as lead author, presented a study at the Annual meeting of the associated Professional Sleep Studies, which looked again at bed sharing.  Previous studies have always indicated that bed sharing is associated with increased sleep problems, primarily more night waking in young children. However it is now apparent that Parental presence at bedtime appears to have a greater negative impact on infant sleep, than actual co-sleeping.

Results indicate that children who slept in a separate room obtained more sleep, woke less at night, had less difficulty at bedtime, fell asleep faster, and were perceived as having fewer sleep problems. These clinically significant differences were mostly observed in children who lived in primarily Caucasian countries, and not in countries that were predominantly Asian.

“However, it is likely that it is not the bed sharing or room sharing per se, that leads to increased sleep issues,” says Mindell. “Rather, most young children who sleep in a separate room fall asleep independently of their parents. These children are able to return to sleep on their own when they naturally awaken during the night, and thus have fewer sleep problems. Children who sleep in the same room as their parents usually have a parent helping them to fall asleep at bedtime, and will need that help again throughout the night.”

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Recent research by Alissa Ferry, Susan Hespos and Sandra Waxman, in the psychology department in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, will appear in the March/April edition of the journal Child Development.. Infants who heard words, provided evidence of categorization, while infants who heard tone sequences did not.

The results, say the authors, were striking. The researchers found that although infants who heard in the word and tone groups saw exactly the same pictures for exactly the same amount of time, those who heard words formed the category fish; those who heard tones did not.

Participants included 46 healthy, full-term infants, from 2 to 4 months of age. Half of the infants within each age bracket were randomly assigned to the word group. All infants in the language group were from families where English was the predominant language spoken in the home. The remaining infants were in the tone group.

Three-month-old infants were shown a series of pictures of fish that were paired with words or beeps. Infants in the word group were told, for example, “Look at the toma!” ?– a made-up word for fish, as they viewed each picture. Other infants heard a series of beeps carefully matched to the labelling phrases for tone and duration. Then infants were shown a picture of a new fish and a dinosaur side-by-side as the researchers measured how long they looked at each picture. If the infants formed the category, they would look longer at one picture than the other.

“We suspect that human speech, and perhaps especially infant-directed speech, engenders in young infants a kind of attention to the surrounding objects that promotes categorization,” said Waxman, a co-author and professor of psychology. “We proposed that over time, this general intentional effect would become more refined, as infants begin to cull individual words from fluent speech, to distinguish among individual words and kinds of words, and to map those words to meaning.”

In 2008 Tucker,Dahgreen, Akerstedt and Waterhouse compared the different types of free time activity on the indices of sleep recovery and well being.  Twelve individuals spent four consecutive evenings after work in three different conditions. Pursuing quiet leisure activities at home, taking part in active leisure pursuits and doing additional work.

Unsurprisingly less satisfaction, rest and recuperation were reported in those doing additional work. Despite there being few other differences between conditions the group who reported better rest, recuperation and sleep were those who were satisfied with their evening activities.

Evening activities which required less mental effort were also associated with better sleep less fatigue the following day and improved recuperation. It was concluded that the nature of the activity may be less important than the individual preference and the cumulative demands of both day and evening activities.

In another study looking at the effect of blue enriched white light during daytime working hours in an office setting. Daytime sleepiness was reduced, and improvement was noted in subjective alertness, performance and evening fatigue. This study involved 104 white collar workers on two office floors and was conducted and reported by Viola, James, Schlangen and Dijk in the Scandinavian Journal of Work and Environmental Health 2008.