Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Dr. Yuko Munakata

Abstract

Sleep loss is experienced universally, and significantly impacts cognition and emotion in adults. However, little to no research has investigated this relationship in the preschoolaged years. This is an essential time period in which executive function and emotion regulation undergo extensive development. As sleep patterns also mature in children during this time, pronounced effects of sleep on developmental domains may be apparent. We experimentally manipulated sleep restriction in 4-6 year-old children, to test its effects on executive function and emotion regulation, aspects of cognition and emotion, respectively. We conducted a 10-day study, where executive function and emotion regulation were assessed twice in children, following a strict sleep schedule for five days prior. Children received either a sufficient amount of sleep or a restricted amount of sleep (3 hour sleep loss) the night prior to assessments. Sleep restriction impaired children’s overall performance on tasks and affected physiological responses to affective stimuli, but did not seem to specifically affect executive function or emotion regulation. This study has implications for future work on the development of executive functions, emotion regulation, and on the potential mediational nature of executive function between sleep and emotion regulation.

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