Project 1: Childhood Sleep Patterns

Sleep duration, energy balance, and insulin resistance in children

project 1_sleep baby

This project will be led by Elsie Taveras, MD, MPH, a pediatrician and  epidemiologist whose clinical practice and research focuses on the prevention of obesity in children. In this project, Dr. Taveras will investigate the role of sleep duration and sleep patterns in early childhood as risk factors for obesity and  metabolic dysfunction in adolescence.

The specific aims are:

  • to examine the extent to which short sleep duration in infancy, chronic insufficient sleep from infancy to mid-childhood, and sleep duration and efficiency at age 11 years are associated with adiposity, fat mass distribution, metabolic syndrome, and cancer-related biomarkers
  • to examine the extent to which these associations are mediated by dietary behaviors, the composition of diet, and physical activity/inactivity behaviors (e.g., television viewing)
  • to examine the extent to which these associations are modified by genetic factors related to sleep duration and either insulin resistance or beta-cell function
  • to examine the social, cultural, and environmental determinants of early childhood sleep patterns using parent interviews, in-home observations, and actigraphic estimates of sleep

Dr. Taveras will use data from Project Viva, a prospective pre-birth cohort study (birth to age 11 years) and the Cleveland Children’s Sleep and Health Study cohort (ages 8 to 19 years) to provide information on sleep, behavioral risk factors, and obesity across the entire pediatric age span.

This project will translate the results of observational studies into behavioral interventions and turn the research findings into theory-based behavioral interventions aimed at modifying sleep patterns during infancy and early childhood. This project will not only advance the current understanding of the long-term effects of sleep disorders during infancy and early childhood on body composition and metabolic function, but also will generate knowledge that can be immediately turned into action to prevent any long-term health consequences that abnormal sleep patterns might have on children. This project will also generate novel data on the moderating role of genetic variants that influence sleep and circadian rhythms in obesity and insulin resistance.