Attendees at the Amelia Island conference on pediatric sleep medicine
sponsored by Brown Medical School sought to define priorities for research,
patient care, policy, and education in their field. Achieving consensus on a
developmental nosology of insomnia is a key first step, according to Thomas
Anders, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of California,
Davis, School of Medicine. Current standards, he said, do not deal with issues
of duration and severity crucial in assessment of children.
Larger epidemiologic studies and larger developmental/longitudinal studies,
he said, will provide a clearer picture of the magnitude of children's sleep
problems. Researchers and clinicians need better ways to measure and determine
the effects of daytime sleepiness and better understanding of neuroimaging and
molecular mechanisms. Clinicians need to promote early, developmentally
appropriate and culturally sensitive sleep hygiene. Professionals, parents,
and children all need more information about sleep.
Nationwide educational efforts aim to encourage even young children to
practice good sleep habits. These include the National Center on Sleep
Disorders Research's Star Sleeper program, which uses the comic-strip figure
Garfield as its "spokescat," at<www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/sleep/starslp>,
and the National Sleep Foundation's Time to Sleep with P.J. Bear at<www.sleepforkids.org/html/pjbear.html>.