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Sleep spindle activity is associated with state- and trait-based emotion in healthy school-aged children.

Sleep Medicine 2023 November 12
BACKGROUND: While connections between children's sleep and their daytime functioning are well established, less is known about the microstructural features of sleep that support emotional wellbeing. Investigating these relationships in healthy children may provide insight into adaptive emotional development. We therefore examined associations between non-rapid eye movement (N2) sleep spindles and both state- and trait-based measures of emotion.

METHODS: A sample of 30 children (7-11 years) without psychiatric disorders completed a baseline assessment, one night of at-home polysomnography (PSG), and an in-lab emotional state assessment the next day including self-reported arousal in response to affective images. Trait-based measures of anxiety and depression as well as savoring, a positive emotion regulatory strategy, were also completed. N2 sleep spindle parameters, including spindle density (number/min) and peak frequency in central regions, were detected using an automated algorithm.

RESULTS: Greater spindle density was significantly associated with decreased state-based emotional arousal towards negative affective images, and greater spindle peak frequency was associated with greater trait-based use of savoring. However, neither spindle parameter was associated with child anxiety or depressive symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings align with and expand on prior research to suggest that N2 sleep spindles support adaptive emotional functioning in school-aged children.

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