Variations in habitual sleep and relational memory in 6-month-olds

Elaine K. H. Tham, Jenny Richmond, Joshua J. Gooley, Nur K. Jafar, Yap-Seng Chong, Fabian Yap, Oon-Hoe Teoh, Daniel Y. T. Goh, Birit F. P. Broekman, Anne Rifkin-Graboi

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Adequate sleep duration and good sleep quality are considered essential for development, especially during periods of major neurodevelopmental change. Still, relations between parent-reported habitual sleep and emerging cognitive abilities within the first year of life are not well studied. Here, we examined relations between habitual sleep measures and an aspect of cognitive functioning, relational memory, which emerges as early as 6 months of age, as compared to other abilities (ie, recognition memory and attentional orienting), both of which are considered to emerge earlier in development. Participants: Participants were a subset of 267 healthy typically developing 6-month-olds taking part in the Growing Up in Singapore towards Healthy Outcomes cohort study. Measurements: Sleep duration, sleep latency, and number and duration of night awakenings were derived from the Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire (BISQ). Short sleep was defined as <10 hours per day, categorized as “not recommended” based on the National Sleep Foundation recommendations. Associations between sleep variables and infants' performance on 2 relational memory tests (deferred imitation and relational binding) were examined independently using hierarchical (blockwise entry) linear regression. Associations between sleep and recognition memory and attentional orienting were also explored. Results: Habitual short sleepers had poorer relational memory recall in the deferred imitation task compared with ‘typical’ sleepers (10-18 hours per day). Shorter sleep latency was related to a greater proportion of correct responses for certain aspects of relational binding. There were no associations between sleep and recognition memory or attention. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that habitual sleep duration and short sleep latency associate with 6-month-olds' relational memory, suggesting a preferential association with memory tasks that are sensitive to development during the second half of the first year.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-265
JournalSleep Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Infant
  • Latency
  • Relational memory
  • Sleep duration
  • Sleep recommendations

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