New research from scientists in Hungary suggests that children with sleep disordered breathing have their memory process disrupted during sleep.
Led by Eszter Csabi, the researchers from Eötvös Loránd University and the University of Szeged analyzed different memory processes of 17 children with sleep disordered breathing who were between the ages of 6 and 12, comparing them to 17 children close in age without any sleep disorders.
The children were asked to participate in a story recall task to test their declarative memory, those that can be consciously remembered, while a reaction time task was used to test non-declarative tasks, comparing how fast they learned new skills and sequences.
It was found that the children with sleep disordered breathing had a lower declarative memory in the learning and testing phase, but on the other hand, the learning of new sequences and skills using non-declarative memory was not negatively impacted by sleep disordered breathing.
“Our results show that sleep disturbances have an impact on the developing brain and could affect the way children learn. It is crucial that we identify and diagnose any sleep problems early in childhood and properly treat them to prevent this,” said co-author Dezso Nemeth.
The findings were presented at the Sleep and Breathing Conference last week, and gives insight into how sleep disruptions affect specific memory processes and the way children learn.
The research team hopes to confirm their results in larger studies to eventually improve training and rehabilitation for children with sleep disordered breathing to include improving their conscious memories for better learning and development.