Research has consistently found associations between sleep characteristics and cardiovascular disease risk in children, adolescents, and adults. Although primarily investigated in clinical samples (e.g., in those with sleep disorders), greater left ventricular mass is associated with poor sleep quality in nonclinical adult populations as well; however, this has not been evaluated in children or adolescents. Our study aim was to consider the relationship between objectively measured sleep characteristics and left ventricular mass in children.
We assessed sleep and cardiac structure in a biracial sample of 9- to 11-year-old children (n = 176; 41% White, 59% Black; 50% female). Sleep was assessed with actigraphy for five nights. Cardiac dimensions were assessed using echocardiography.
After adjusting for covariates, we found that poor sleep quality was associated with significantly greater left ventricular mass (β = 0.13, t(167) = 2.14, p = .034, Cohen d = 0.16, for activity during sleep; β = 0.15, t(167) = 2.43, p = .016, Cohen d = 0.18, for sleep fragmentation). Other cardiac dimensions (namely, relative wall thickness and right ventricular dimension) were also significantly associated with sleep characteristics. Notably, associations did not differ as a function of sex or race.
The present findings are novel and unique because no prior reports have systematically documented the association between poor sleep quality with potentially detrimental cardiac remodeling in a nonclinical sample of children. However, the novelty and importance of these findings require additional research for confirmation.