8th Dec, 2016

University researcher aims to establish correlation between sleep and learning

Shaun Reynolds 31st Mar, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A RESEARCHER at Coventry University is looking to recruit young children who snore or have down’s syndrome for a new study exploring the effect disruptive sleep has on learning.

Dr Anna Joyce from the university’s centre for research in psychology, behaviour and achievement is seeking children aged two to four years old who are developing.

Parents and carers interested in participating with their children will be invited to attend a one hour session at Coventry University where their young ones will play games to test their motor, visual and language skills.

Parents will also be shown how to use specialist equipment to monitor their child’s breathing during sleep – which they will then take home with them.

Dr Joyce is keen to gain further information into how disruptive sleeping patterns can contribute to delays in early cognitive abilities.

Breathing issues experienced during bedtime may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS), which is a disorder where the airway becomes blocked during sleep.

Although scientists know that OSAS is a particular culprit for causing cognitive difficulties in typically developing individuals, there is little research looking at people with Down’s syndrome – which is where Dr Joyce’s project comes in.

Dr Anna Joyce said: “Sleep is a vital process that supports a number of physical and psychological functions.

“We all need good sleep to perform at our best and those with sleep problems find it more difficult to learn, pay attention and remember things – therefore it’s not surprising that any child with poor sleep will do worse than their classmates at school.

“More than half of those suffering with down syndrome experience some kind of difficulty sleeping.

“My research aims to help in a very practical way by improving education and quality of life for these children and their families.

“I’m determined get the message across to health services that all children should be screened and treated for sleep problems so that they have the best chance to be healthy and happy.”

Volunteers looking to take part in Dr Joyce’s research should contact her on 02477 659509 or email anna.joyce@coventry.ac.uk