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March 03, 2010

Insomnia may be linked to impaired modulation of heart rhythm during sleep in children

According to a new study by the Pennsylvania researchers, kids who suffer from insomnia 've an impaired modulation of heart rhythm during sleep.
Insomnia in childrenInsomnia is a condition whereby the person has difficulty in falling asleep and is accompanied by several sleep, medical and psychiatric disorders. The researchers in this study found that insomnia symptoms were consistently associated with impaired heart variability measures.

Heart rate variability (HRV) is the measure of beat-to-beat interval of heart rate. The heart rates may change slightly in response to automatic functions like breathing. Heart rates can be detected by methods like ECG, blood pressure or pulse wave signal derived from a photoplethysmograph (PPG).

The researchers studied 612 elementary school children aged 9, in their first to fifth grades. All of them were in good health & their parents completed the Pediatric Behavior Scale, including two questions that focused on symptoms of insomnia.

The students were examined overnight in a sleep laboratory with polysomnography (PSG), a method used to measure sleep disorders. Sleep duration, trouble in falling asleep, how many did they wake up & problems while going back to sleep again, all of these factors were measured.The researchers also measured cardiac autonomic modulation (CAM) which is the balance of the sympathetic & the parasympathetic control of the heart rate rhythm.

According to Duanping Liao, co-author of the study & professor of epidemiology at Penn State University College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa, kids sleeping for longer duration 've a healthier heart regulation profile in comparison to those who sleep for short time. Their hearts are more excitable in case they have insomnia. Excited heart would mean faster beating heart rate, which is not healthy.

These data indicate that among young children with insomnia symptoms reported by their parents, there already is an impairment of cardiovascular autonomic regulation, long before they reach the traditional high-risk period for cardiovascular disease.

The new research study has been reported at the American Heart Association's 50th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology & Prevention.

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