Get access

Children's Sleep and Cognitive Functioning: Race and Socioeconomic Status as Moderators of Effects


  • This research was supported by a National Science Foundation Grant 0339115 and an Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station/Lindsey Foundation Grant ALA080-001. We gratefully acknowledge contributions made by Christine Acebo, Brown University, in relation to actigraphy, and by Karen Martin, Lori Staton, and other staff of the Child Development Lab for data collection. We also thank school personnel, and children and parents who participated.

concerning this article should be addressed to Joseph A. Buckhalt, Department of Counselor Education, Counseling Psychology & School Psychology, 2084 Haley Center, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849. Electronic mail may be sent to


Race and socioeconomic status (SES) moderated the link between children's sleep and cognitive functioning. One hundred and sixty-six 8- to 9-year-old African and European American children varying in SES participated. Sleep measures were actigraphy, sleep diaries, and self-report; cognitive measures were from the Woodcock–Johnson III and reaction time tasks. Children had similar performance when sleep was more optimal, but after controlling for SES, African American children had lower performance with sleep disruptions. Children from lower and higher SES had similar performance with better sleep quality and less variability in sleep schedules, but when sleep was more disrupted, higher SES children had better performance. Examination of environmental variables associated with race and SES that may underlie these effects may lead to directions for interventions to improve cognitive performance.