Gary Garcia-Molina, PhD, discusses how smart bed technology is improving pediatric sleep research

At the 2022 International Pediatric Sleep Association (IPSA) Congress, researchers from Sleep Number presented two studies that used their smart bed technology to analyze children’s sleep patterns.

Gary Garcia-Molina, PhD, Sleep Number Labs, and a team of researchers conducted an ecologically valid assessment to characterize overnight sleep parameters by age and gender. Data were collected from the large sample population over 2 years.

“One study aimed to understand how the continuum of sleep patterns – the duration of sleep, the time in bed, the distribution between restorative onset and restful sleep – changes with age and also changes by gender,” one said the study researchers.

Interviewed by HCPLive, Garcia-Molina went on to explain that prior to this technology, most studies consisted of self-reports or reports from caregivers. While this can be effective for the investigation, smart bed technology provides more detailed information.

An interesting observation was that the results were consistent with previously published literature reporting later shifts in bedtime and wake time with age. The other interesting finding, however, was the difference in sleep patterns by gender.

“Basically, girls sleep longer than women,” he explained. “This is also known, and again there are various hypotheses as to why this might be the case, but we find that our data provides another element of validation of our technology.”

The second story examined how disturbances in pediatric sleep rhythms affect behavior. The study not only included summer breaks from school, bank holidays and weekends, but also took place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results of this study were also consistent with previous data, showing that bedtime shifts later.

“Sleep duration was longer, there was also a differentiation by age, and it’s important to note that this chronotype switch — which I mentioned earlier — is more pronounced in boys,” Garcia-Molina said. “Boys tend to have a later chronotype, have more night hours if you will, compared to girls, and that’s also something our data show.”

These studies, “Age and Sex Differences in Nocturnal Sleep Parameters in Children and Adolescents” and “Altered Sleep Patterns in Children in Response to Changing Schedules: An Ecologically Valid Study,” were incorporated into data from the International Pediatric Sleep Association (IPSA) Congress 2022.

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