My Q and A With Rakesh Bhattacharjee, an Expert in Children’s Sleep Medicine

Rakesh Bhattacharjee is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Chicago’s Divisions of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine. In answer to my questions, he shared his insights on the link between breathing and sleep health, social factors that can affect children’s sleep, and the importance of teaching your children healthy sleep habits.

How would you describe your research on sleep and children?

My research on sleep in children focuses on complications related to sleep disturbances, namely sleep disordered breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is very prevalent in children, affecting 2-10 percent of all children, and accordingly we have begun to uncover the role of disrupted sleep using OSA as a model. My research examines how sleep disordered breathing is detrimental to children’s health including manifesting in neurocognitive, behavioral, inflammatory and cardiometabolic morbidity. Concurrently my research is examining the efficacy of certain treatments in sleep and OSA as I feel that given the detriments of disordered sleep, it is imperative to understand how treatment succeeds and how treatment falls short.

What challenges do children today face in achieving optimal amounts of sleep, and what consequences does a lack of sleep have on children’s health?

The challenges of today’s children are largely age dependent. Certainly the developmental status is related to a child’s age. For instance, the issues that pertain to a toddler learning to sleep are very different from those of an adolescent. That being said, many of the forces of today’s current societal trends impact all children. For example, television, video games, smart phones, tablets have all been recently identified as agents that frequently disrupt a child’s sleep, including leading to total sleep deprivation.

Lack of sleep and/or poor sleep quality are linked to a plethora of disruptions to a child’s health. For example, poor sleep quality and/or sleep deprivation are linked —> Read More