Visually detected NREM Stage 2 sleep spindles in kindergarten children are associated with current and future emotional and behavioural characteristics
Sleep electroencephalogram spindles are associated with efficient cortical–subcortical connectivity, and intellectual and learning abilities. In the present study, we assessed healthy preschoolers with a twofold aim: (i) to explore associations of non-rapid eye movement S2 spindles with emotional/behavioural characteristics cross-sectionally; and (ii) longitudinally. A total of 43 children who were 5 years old underwent objective sleep electroencephalogram monitoring in their homes. Emotional and behavioural dimensions were assessed by parents and teachers with the Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaire at baseline and at follow-up 1 year later. Non-rapid eye movement S2 spindles were visually scored and compared with Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaire dimensions. High non-rapid eye movement S2 spindle density was associated with less internalizing behaviour, more prosocial behaviour and a low total problem score. In girls, high non-rapid eye movement S2 spindle density was related to low hyperactivity, while in boys it was associated with less internalizing behaviour, more externalizing behaviour and more hyperactivity. Longitudinally, a higher number of non-rapid eye movement S2 spindles at 5 years old predicted fewer peer problems 12 months later. In kindergarten children, high non-rapid eye movement S2 spindle density is associated with observable current and future favourable emotional/behavioural patterns. However, gender differences were also found, as should be taken into account in future studies.