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Sleep and psychological disturbance in nocturnal asthma


Subjective and objective sleep disturbance was studied in children with nocturnal asthma. Relations between such disturbance and daytime psychological function were also explored, including possible changes in learning and behaviour associated with improvements in nocturnal asthma and sleep. Assessments included home polysomnography, parental questionnaires concerning sleep disturbance, behaviour, and mood and cognitive testing. Compared with matched controls, children with asthma had significantly more disturbed sleep, tended to have more psychological problems, and they performed less well on some tests of memory and concentration. In general, improvement of nocturnal asthma symptoms by changes in treatment was followed by improvement in sleep and psychological function in subsequent weeks. The effects of asthma on sleep and the possible psychological consequences are important aspects of overall care.

  • Sleep disturbance is common in children with asthma, more than is usually supposed.

  • The nature and extent of sleep disruption is only partly apparent from subjective, clinical reporting; physiological sleep recordings might be more informative, showing fragmentation of sleep by brief arousals rather than changes in conventional sleep stages.

  • Disruption of sleep in these ways might affect the child’s daytime cognitive function, mood, and behaviour.

  • Identification and control of nocturnal asthmatic symptoms is important, not only to improve respiratory function but also to promote better quality sleep and psychological well being during the day.

  • sleep
  • asthma
  • psychological function

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