Sex differences in childhood sleep and health implications.

TitleSex differences in childhood sleep and health implications.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsSmidt SDElkhatib, Hitt T, Zemel BS, Mitchell JA
JournalAnn Hum Biol
Date Published2021 Sep
KeywordsAdolescent, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Child, Female, Humans, Male, Pediatric Obesity, Sex Characteristics, sleep, Sleep Wake Disorders

CONTEXT: Sleep is critical for optimal childhood metabolic health and neurodevelopment. However, there is limited knowledge regarding childhood sex differences in sleep, including children with neurodevelopmental disorders, and the impact of such differences on metabolic health.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate if sex differences in childhood sleep exist and if sleep associates with metabolic health outcomes equally by sex. Using autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as a case study, we also examine sleep sex differences in children with a neurodevelopmental disorder.

METHODS: A narrative review explored the literature focussing on sex differences in childhood sleep.

RESULTS: Sex differences in sleep were not detected among pre-adolescents. However, female adolescents were more likely to report impaired sleep than males. Childhood obesity is more common in males. Shorter sleep duration may be associated with obesity in male pre-adolescents/adolescents; although findings are mixed. ASD is male-predominant; yet, there was an indication that pre-adolescent female children with ASD had more impaired sleep.

CONCLUSION: Sex differences in sleep appear to emerge in adolescence with more impaired sleep in females. This trend was also observed among pre-adolescent female children with ASD. Further research is needed on sex differences in childhood sleep and metabolic health and the underlying mechanisms driving these differences.

Alternate JournalAnn Hum Biol
PubMed ID35105205