Neonatal Sleep Predicts Attention Orienting and Distractibility

Ronny Geva, Hagit Yaron, Jacob Kuint

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Objective: Children with sleep disorders tend to experience attention problems, yet little is known about the relationship between sleep and attention in early development. This prospective follow-up study investigated the longitudinal relationships between neonatal sleep, attention, and distraction in infants born preterm. Method: We used actigraphy and sleep-wake diaries in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU, N = 65), attention orienting in a visual-recognition-memory task (VRM) at age 4 months, and structured observation of attention and distractibility at age 18 months. Results: Infants with poorer neonatal sleep (n = 31) exhibited longer first gaze durations in the VRM at 4 months and longer distraction episodes at 18 months relative to neonatal controls who slept well (p.01). Hierarchical regression models support relations between neonatal sleep and gaze behavior at 4 months and distractibility at 18 months; moreover, alterations in orienting attention at 4 months predicted the likelihood of being distracted during the second year of life. Conclusion: Findings underscore the importance of early sleep-wake and attention regulation in the development of distraction in infants born preterm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-150
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Attention Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013, © The Author(s) 2013.


  • attention
  • infant
  • prematurity
  • sleep


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