Regent’s Psychology lecturer investigates links between sleep and reading ability

Sleep problems in childhood are known to have a detrimental effect on cognitive abilities, behavioural regulation, and academic achievement. Dr Anna Joyce, Psychology Lecturer at Regent’s University London, has co-authored an article entitled: ‘Sleep-disordered breathing and daytime sleepiness predict children’s reading ability’ with Dr Helen Breadmore, Associate Professor of Psychology in Education from the University of Birmingham.

Published in the British Journal of Educational Psychology and featured in the November issue of Wiley Research Headlines, their article demonstrates the links between sleep and reading ability in children.

A total of 339 children aged four to 14 took part in the study which involved completing the Test of Word Reading Efficiency. In addition, parents were asked to complete two questionnaires, one on sleeping habits and the other on sleep-disordered breathing.  

The study found that sleep-disordered breathing and daytime sleepiness are associated with poorer reading ability. Dr Anna Joyce commented: ‘Being a good reader is a strong predictor of academic success and improved life outcomes, so we recommend screening children with sleep problems for reading difficulties, and children with reading difficulties for sleep problems. Screening and treating sleep and literacy difficulties at a young age could help to improve life outcomes for all children.’

At Regent’s, Dr Joyce specialises in developmental psychology, atypical development, and sleep. She is particularly interested in cognitive development in children with developmental disorders and whether sleep problems, which are common in these children, could be at least partly responsible for some of the cognitive difficulties that they face.

Read the full study here