Purdue University Graduate School

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The Multifinality of Sleep in Early Development-Links to Typical Development, Attention, and Autism

posted on 2022-07-28, 00:01 authored by Emily Anna AbelEmily Anna Abel


Sleep is a critical component of early development, with over 8,000 hours spent asleep between a child's first and third birthday alone. Beginning in infancy, sleep is linked to several aspects of development, such as language, attention, and social communication. Thus, given its frequency and importance for infants and toddlers, sleep is among the most common topics raised by parents of typically and atypically developing children at well-child visits and beyond. The current dissertation includes three distinct, but integrated studies on sleep in early development. Specifically, study 1 addresses sleep in typically developing toddlers using videosomnography (an objective measure of sleep), study 2 addresses relations between sleep and attention in toddlers at low and high familial risk for ASD, and study 3 addresses prospective patterns of early sleep and development in children who later develop ASD. Overall, results from this dissertation highlight that sleep problems (e.g., night waking) can be expected even within well documented typical development. Findings from this dissertation have implications for sleep measurement in early childhood and suggest that using objective measures of sleep and developmental competence are critical for understanding normative sleep in typical and atypical development. 


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Human Development and Family Studies

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

A.J. Schwichtenberg

Additional Committee Member 2

Rob Duncan

Additional Committee Member 3

Mandy Rispoli

Additional Committee Member 4

Valerie Knopik

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