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Minerva Pediatrica 2020 Apr 02

DOI: 10.23736/S0026-4946.20.05505-X


language: English

Sleep disturbances in specific learning disorders: a qualitative and quantitative investigation

Chiara PECINI 1, Ilaria GIUNTOLI 2, Silvia SPOGLIANTI 2, Mariachiara DI LIETO 2, Emanuela IINGUAGGIATO 2, Filippo GASPERINI 2, Paola CRISTOFANI 2, Daniela BRIZZOLARA 2, Anna CHILOSI 2 , Ugo FARAGUNA 3, Tommaso BANFI 4

1 Department of Education, Languages, Intercultures, Literatures and Psychology of the University of Florence, Florence, Italy; 2 Department of Developmental Neuroscience, IRCCS Stella Maris, Calambrone, Pisa, Italy; 3 Department of Translational Research and of New Surgical and Medical Technologies, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy; 4 The BioRobotic Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy


BACKGROUND: The literature reports a significant association between sleep disorders and learning disabilities. Nevertheless, not all children with learning disorders have sleep alterations, and which sleep characteristics are associated with which learning difficulty is still unknown. The study aimed at acquiring new information on the relation between sleep disturbances or habits and the learning profiles of children with Specific Learning Disorder (SLD).
METHODS: The Sleep Disturbance Scale for Children (SDSC) and an actigraph (the FitBit-Flex, FB-F) were used in 26 and 16 SLD children respectively; all children were also assessed for learning skills.
RESULTS: Although parents’ reports at the SDSC did not differentiate SLD from typical readers, the awakening, respiratory and arousal disturbances at the SDSC correlated with sleep duration at the FB-F. Sleep alterations at the FB-F actigraph characterize SLD with literacy difficulties: children with reading decoding difficulties showed shorter minimum amount of sleep than typical children, and severe SLDs showed shorter maximum sleep duration and a higher number of awakenings in comparison to SLDs with mild learning deficits.
CONCLUSIONS: Mild alterations in the amount, duration and quality of sleep may characterize children with learning disorders and actigraphy proves to be a useful tool in starting the individual monitoring of sleep in these populations.

KEY WORDS: Learning Disorders; Reading; Sleep; Children; Actigraphy

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