New research on 4- to 14-years-olds links sleep problems to a negative effect on children’s ability to read.

In the study, published in the British Journal of Educational Psychology, parents were asked to complete questionnaires about their children’s sleep, while the children completed a test of word reading efficiency.

Children whose parents reported increased sleep-disordered breathing, daytime sleepiness, and a short time for children to fall asleep (which is generally associated with increased tiredness) had poorer performance on reading tasks for both words and nonwords. The models explained 6% to 7% of variance in reading ability.

“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,” says corresponding author Anna Joyce, PhD, MSc, of Regent’s University London, in a release. “Screening and treating sleep and literacy difficulties at a young age could help to improve life outcomes for all children.”

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