Nonrapid eye movement sleep characteristics and relations with motor, memory, and cognitive ability from infancy to preadolescence

Jessica M. Page*, Lauren S. Wakschlag, Elizabeth S. Norton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Sleep plays a critical role in neural neurodevelopment. Hallmarks of sleep reflected in the electroencephalogram during nonrapid eye movement (NREM) sleep are associated with learning processes, cognitive ability, memory, and motor functioning. Research in adults is well-established; however, the role of NREM sleep in childhood is less clear. Growing evidence suggests the importance of two NREM sleep features: slow-wave activity and sleep spindles. These features may be critical for understanding maturational change and the functional role of sleep during development. Here, we review the literature on NREM sleep from infancy to preadolescence to provide insight into the network dynamics of the developing brain. The reviewed findings show distinct relations between topographical and maturational aspects of slow waves and sleep spindles; however, the direction and consistency of these relationships vary, and associations with cognitive ability remain unclear. Future research investigating the role of NREM sleep and development would benefit from longitudinal approaches, increased control for circadian and homeostatic influences, and in early childhood, studies recording daytime naps and overnight sleep to yield increased precision for detecting age-related change. Such evidence could help explicate the role of NREM sleep and provide putative physiological markers of neurodevelopment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22202
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • cognition
  • development
  • motor
  • sleep spindles
  • slow-wave activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Nonrapid eye movement sleep characteristics and relations with motor, memory, and cognitive ability from infancy to preadolescence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this