How does improved sleeping behavior affect children?
Many parents of small children or adolescents are likely to be aware of the following problems: their child sleeps far too little and attention is often lacking at school, which is why the child's academic performance suffers. Researchers have now developed so-called light therapy glasses, which can contribute to improved sleep and can even promote learning and cognitive skills in teenagers.
In their current research, scientists at Flinders University in Australia found that newly invented light therapy glasses improve teen sleep and promote learning and cognitive skills. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Journal of Adolescence".
Improving cognitive performance through light therapy glasses?
The newly invented glasses have recently been used in studies to demonstrate their usefulness in overcoming acute and chronic sleep problems in teenagers. These special light therapy glasses could have further effects on humans and lead to improved cognitive skills in adolescents and young adults without recognized sleep disorders, the researchers say. This in turn could help to improve the cognitive performance of those affected.
Study examines short-term memory and information processing
The so-called bright light therapy was beneficial for sleep and the cognitive performance of adolescents with delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, which were treated in a children's and adolescent sleep clinic, the experts explain. The current study builds on an earlier study that increased teenage sleep when using light therapy glasses as part of a novel sleep intervention in high schools. The new research went one step further by also examining aspects of IQ tests, such as short-term memory and the speed of information processing.
Treatment is beneficial in many ways
The treatment has been shown to be beneficial in many ways. The participants' sleep patterns improved, but cognitive performance also increased, study author Dr. Cele Richardson from Flinders University. These effects proved to be very helpful for adolescents who participated in the study and had serious sleep problems. The experts suspect that the results obtained could be used more widely in the future.
Study had 60 adolescents
The controlled study evaluated a so-called light therapy for the treatment of delayed sleep-wake phase disorder in 60 young people between the ages of 13 and 24 years. Participants underwent light therapy for three weeks and were then re-examined three months after treatment. In view of the results of the study, the researchers assume that similar intervention strategies, especially in adolescents with late but not clinically delayed sleep timing, can be used more widely to improve the cognitive performance of those affected. The speed of information processing is particularly affected.
Chronic sleep disorder reduces cognitive performance
The results also suggest that the relationship between sleep and adolescent cognitive performance changes when a sleep disorder becomes chronic (known as delayed sleep-wake disorder), the scientists explain. Adolescents with delayed sleep-wake-up disorders also assessed their performance in cognitive tasks as significantly worse compared to normal sleeping participants. This could also be observed if the performance was in reality not worse. The observation could suggest that adolescents with sleep-wake disorder have negative expectations about their performance as a result of poor sleep, the researchers suspect.
More research is needed
Further research in this area is now considered a top priority, as it is entirely possible that the general learning ability of adolescents could benefit from similar sleep strategies, the scientists add. (as)