Sleep duration and RSA suppression as predictors of internalizing and externalizing behaviors

Sunghye Cho, Lauren E. Philbrook, Elizabeth L. Davis, Kristin A. Buss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Although the conceptual interplay among the biological and clinical features of sleep, arousal, and emotion regulation has been noted, little is understood about how indices of sleep duration and parasympathetic reactivity operate jointly to predict adjustment in early childhood. Using a sample of 123 toddlers, the present study examined sleep duration and RSA reactivity as predictors of internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Parents reported on children's sleep duration and adjustment. RSA reactivity was assessed via children's responses to fear-eliciting stimuli and an inhibitory control challenge. Findings demonstrated that greater RSA suppression to both types of tasks in combination with longer sleep duration was concurrently associated with less internalizing. In contrast, greater RSA augmentation to an inhibitory control task in the context of shorter sleep duration predicted more externalizing 1 year later. The significance of duration of toddlers’ sleep as well as the context in which physiological regulatory difficulties occurs is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-69
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental psychobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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