Children’s sleep, skin conductance level and mental health
We examined relations between children’s sympathetic nervous system activity, indexed by skin conductance level (SCL) during baseline and reactivity to a challenging task and their sleep problems. We also assessed SCL as a moderator of associations between children’s sleep problems and their mental health. A sample of healthy and typically developing school-attending children (78 boys and 98 girls) participated (mean age = 8.7 years; standard deviation = 0.36). Sleep was assessed via actigraphy and self-reports. Parents reported on children’s externalizing behaviors and children reported their internalizing symptoms. Findings demonstrate that sleep disruptions (duration, quality) are associated with lower basal SCL. In the context of sleep problems, a lower level of basal SCL functioned as a vulnerability factor for depression symptoms and worse self-esteem. Further, children with both increased SCL reactivity and sleep problems were at risk for depression symptoms. Results illustrate the significance of simultaneous examinations of various biological and physiological systems in the prediction of children’s wellbeing.