Sleep disturbances in visually impaired toddlers

Elisa Fazzi, Maria Zaccagnino, Sheila Gahagan, Chiara Capsoni, Sabrina Signorini, Giada Ariaudo, Josè Lanners, Simona Orcesi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study set out to describe sleep patterns in visually impaired (VI) children during the first 40 months of life compared to typically developing children. We also evaluated the influence of age, sex and the presence of other disabilities on sleep patterns. Patients and methods: A sleep questionnaire was administered to 154 parents of 10- to 39-month-old children: 36 with visual impairment without associated disability; 68 with visual impairment and associated disabilities (cortical visual impairment); and 50 healthy controls. The groups were balanced by age and gender. The questionnaire was developed at the C. Mondino Institute of Neurology in Pavia, Italy with the aim of investigating sleep patterns and medical history. Results: Within the VI sample, sleep behaviour was not related to the presence of associated disabilities. Visually impaired children had higher sleep disturbance scores than healthy controls using the Richman Criteria. VI children took longer to fall asleep, and their nocturnal awakenings were longer, more frequent per night, and affected more nights per week compared to the controls. Conclusions: The results of this study show that the sleep of VI children is characterized by increased difficulty in falling asleep and in sleeping through the night, compared with that of their healthy peers. These findings confirm those of other important studies on sleep in VI children and underline the importance of evaluating and taking into account sleep-wake cycle in the care of the VI child.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)572-578
Number of pages7
JournalBrain and Development
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • Sleep disorders
  • Sleep-wake cycle
  • Visually impaired children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology

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