Thursday, December 24, 2015

The evidence that children with sleep disorders are at higher risk for language problems than healthy sleepers is...

Hooray for the Sleep and Language Pathologists for looking at the data linking sleep and language delay! JR

The Evidence-Based Decision

There is consistent evidence that children with sleep disorders are at higher risk for language problems than healthy sleepers. 
With the exception of expressive phonology (in a single study), these problems are subtle. 
Effect sizes were typically small and the low scores earned on standardized tests of language were still within normal limits. Although it is clear that sleep disorders do increase the risk of at least subclinical language problems, the risk is not limited to language. Children with sleep disorders also presented with poor behavior, attention, and executive function.
 The SLP should consider this evidence when taking case histories and making appropriate referrals.
If parents report that their child consistently exhibits limited sleep, poor quality sleep, snoring, or excessive daytime sleepiness, a referral to a physician is warranted. The child who presents with mild or subclinical deficits in language, along with problematic attention, executive function, or behavior, might be more accurately diagnosed with a sleep disorder than a language learning deficit. That said, given the current evidence, it is not clear that treatment for the child’s sleep disorder will remediate subclinical language problems.

Sleep Disorders as a Risk to Language Learning and Use

Sleep Disorders as a Risk to Language Learning and Use.



Are people with sleep disorders at higher risk for language learning deficits than healthy sleepers?


Scoping Review.


PubMed, Google Scholar, Trip Database,


sleep disorders AND language AND learning; sleep disorders language learning -deprivation -epilepsy; sleep disorders AND verballearning.




Children and adults with sleep disorders were at a higher risk for language problems than healthy sleepers. The language problems typically co-occurred with problems of attention and executive function (in children and adults), behavior (in children), and visual-spatial processing (in adults). Effects were typically small. Language problems seldom rose to a level of clinical concern but there were exceptions involving phonological deficits in children with sleep-disordered breathing and verbal memory deficits among adults with sleep-disordered breathing or idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder.


Case history interviews should include questions about limited sleep, poor-quality sleep, snoring, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Medical referrals for clients with suspected sleep disorders are prudent.

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