Sleep and cognitive development in preschoolers: Stress and autobiographical performance associations

Marta Nieto, Jorge J. Ricarte, James W. Griffith, Noël C. Slesinger, Bayley J. Taple, Luz Fernández-Aguilar, Laura Ros, Jose M. Latorre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Sleep regulation is an important developmental milestone for children. Although sleep quality has been associated with mental health as a function of negative valence of memories, to our knowledge, there is no information about autobiographical memory specificity and sleep functioning among children ages 3 to 6 years. Because autobiographical memory is consolidated at 4 and a half years of age, this is an important developmental period to study. Thus, the main aim of this study was to examine the relationship between sleep characteristics (by parental self-report)and performance on the Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT)adapted for children (Nieto, Ros, Mateo, Ricarte, & Latorre, 2017), as well as the relationships between sleep characteristics, AMT and stress levels. One hundred seventy children (51% boys)between the ages of 41 and 78 months were tested in an infant/preschool context. Results showed that the time (measured in minutes)slept during the night or the day positively correlated with autobiographical memory specificity, regardless of memory valence. Finally, specific memories with a positive valence correlated negatively with stress. Due to the relevance of sleep for neurological development and its association with psychopathology, the current results support the significance of controlling sleep quality in the development of autobiographical memory in children, as well as the need to explore its possible association with the presence of positive or negative emotional state during retrieval. In short, our results represent the first approach to the subject under study, which should be completed with objective sleep measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-22
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
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  • Autobiographical memory
  • Overgeneral autobiographical memory
  • Preschool age
  • Sleep
  • Specificity
  • Stress


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