CU Sleep Study for Colorado Pre-School Kids

My husband was a resident at the University of Colorado Hospital, so I am very familiar with the research departments studies. My family and I have participated in many of them. The staff is always very accommodating, helpful and makes volunteering a breeze. I love knowing that I am somehow helping the medical field, even if it’s just by answering surveys or getting a simple blood test. I was recently contacted to share information on their latest sleep study for pre-school aged kids and wanted to share this information with all of you, in case you would like to participate.


Volunteer for this important research study and help us learn about sleep, biological rhythms, and emotion in young children!

Researchers at the University of Colorado Sleep & Development Laboratory are dedicated to studying factors underlying the regulation of sleep and wakefulness across early childhood and to better understand how sleep and circadian rhythms impact children’s health and development. The preschool years are full of remarkable changes – children develop complex skills in their play behavior, expression and regulation of emotions, thinking, language, and motor activity.


Our Sleep and Development lab at the University of Colorado Boulder is interested in healthy children with no sleep problems who were born between March 2009 and October 2011. Children must take daytime naps.


We know that factors such as sleep environment, parent-child interactions, and children’s health status and psychosocial functioning influence when, how long, and how well children sleep. Very little is known, however, about the biological sleep capabilities of young children. Although parents know that children are more “cranky” when they don’t get enough sleep, this relationship has not been adequately studied in young children.

Little is known about the “biology” of sleep and rhythms in early childhood and its influence on children’s overall development. The brain is also changing as young children mature. The primary goal of this study is to better understand these biological processes across early development and to find out how sleep and daily rhythms are linked to the way young children express and regulate their emotions.

In this study, we measure two aspects of sleep biology – sleep pressure across the day and the timing of daily rhythms. Thus, we are also studying the effects of taking away an afternoon nap or putting children to bed later than their usual bedtime on children’s ability to express and regulate their emotions. This is the first study to ever comprehensively look at the sleep biology of young children.

Who will benefit from this study?

Studying sleep biology and the effects of not getting enough sleep in healthy children is very important and will help us understand how sleep and emotional problems develop and persist across early development. The results of the study will be valuable for anyone interested in the well-being of young children – such as parents, physicians, educators, psychologists, and policy makers.


Qualify for the study:In a brief telephone interview, we ask you questions about your child’s sleep and developmental/health history, family schedules, and parental health history. We also ask you to complete questionnaires that help us determine if your child fits into the study. If your child is eligible, we will visit you in your home for an orientation session.

Training Visits:We make brief visits to your home during the first week of the study to slowly introduce the procedures used to measure sleep, biological rhythms, and emotion.

Sleep Schedules: Your child is given a strict bedtime and rise time schedule, which includes daytime naps and nighttime sleep periods. Following this sleep schedule is a very important part of the study.

Modified Sleep Schedule: On five different days, your child follows a modified sleep-wake schedule that varies the amount of time s/he is awake before being able to sleep. This modified sleep schedule results in your child missing a daytime nap, taking a late daytime nap, and staying up past his/her regular bedtime.

Activity Monitoring: Your child wears a small watch-like wrist monitor for the duration of the study. This monitor records movement and lets us keep track of your child’s sleep patterns throughout the study.

Sleep Diary: You are asked to complete a brief sleep diary and telephone the lab each day to report your child’s bedtimes and rise times.

Sleep Studies: We perform 3 daytime and 3 nighttime sleep studies on your child. During these studies, small sensors are placed on the scalp, face, shoulder, and side to measure brain, eye, muscle, and heart activity. This allows us to assess sleep in the most sophisticated way possible.

Biological Rhythms Assessment: On one evening (approximately 2-9 pm), your child gives saliva samples by “mouthing” a dry cotton roll for about 1-minute. Saliva samples allow us to measure levels of melatonin, a hormone related to the body’s biological “clock.”

Emotion Assessments: Your child participates in activities that measure his/her ability to control and express emotions. We do these activities on two afternoons: one on a day that your child has taken a daytime nap and another on a day the nap is missed. These assessments allow us to understand the relationship between sleep and emotion in children.

Study Length: On average, the study last 4 weeks. This time period may be a little longer, depending on your family’s schedule.

Thinking your child will never do these things? 

Think again! Our research team is experienced in working with young children and making study activities fun, rewarding, and interactive. We use games, books, and other play activities to introduce your child to the study procedures and to develop rapport with your child.

Will the study harm my child in any way?

All children miss their afternoon nap or stay up late from time to time.  Missing sleep naturally makes them a little “cranky,” and these behaviors are of interest to our research team. Our goal is to look at differences in the ways children express and regulate their emotions on a day when they have not gotten enough sleep.  We will continually monitor your child (with your help) to ensure that they are not “pushed” beyond their comfort level.

The sensors are safe and do not cause any harm. We attach sensors to the face with a small colorful sticker that is lubricated with a hypoallergenic gel. We attach sensors to the head with a similar type of water soluble paste. After the electrodes are removed, the residue washes right off with soap and water.


Because this study requires time and effort, your child receives a $200 savings bond and you receive $220 cash at the end of the study. Your child is also frequently rewarded with small “gifts.”


All of the information we receive is kept confidential and will not be shared with anyone outside of our research team.

Contact us to learn more!


Call 303-492-4584

CU sleep study



Owner/Editor-in-Chief at
Emily is a mom to three very active boys. Her youngest is autistic so she is passionate about advocating for children and families on the spectrum. She attends more concerts than is humanly possible and takes some pretty amazingly blurry photos of said shows to prove she was there. Also, #hashtags are her favorite. #totes #noreally


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Emily is a mom to three very active boys. Her youngest is autistic so she is passionate about advocating for children and families on the spectrum. She attends more concerts than is humanly possible and takes some pretty amazingly blurry photos of said shows to prove she was there. Also, #hashtags are her favorite. #totes #noreally


2 thoughts on “CU Sleep Study for Colorado Pre-School Kids”

  1. Reply
    Rolanda Sole says:

    The amount of sleep we need, and its pattern, changes with age. Small babies spend most of their time asleep; children need more sleep than adults, and small children need a nap during the day. Sleep patterns change again during adolescence. Most adults need about 7 or 8 hours sleep per night, although some people seem to need less, and some a bit more. Older people often go back to sleeping for shorter periods and have a nap during the day.’`^.

    Have a good week

  2. Totally interesting! I’ve helped out their research centers before too – collecting urine samples and poo – for a zinc study. Try doing that on a 6 month old – ain’t easy!

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