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Caffeine Consuming Children and Adolescents Show Altered Sleep Behavior and Deep Sleep

1,†, 2,†, 1,3, 1,4 and 1,3,4,5,*
Child Development Center, University Children’s Hospital Zurich, Steinwiesstrasse 75, 8032 Zurich, Switzerland
Sleep and Development Laboratory, Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado Boulder, 354 UCB Boulder, 80309 Boulder, CO, USA
Neuroscience Center Zurich (ZNZ), Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology (ZIHP), University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
University Clinics for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Zurich, University of Zurich, Lenggstrasse 31, 8029 Zurich, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Marcos Frank
Brain Sci. 2015, 5(4), 441-455;
Received: 10 August 2015 / Revised: 28 September 2015 / Accepted: 7 October 2015 / Published: 15 October 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sleep and Brain Development)
PDF [384 KB, uploaded 15 October 2015]


Caffeine is the most commonly ingested psychoactive drug worldwide with increasing consumption rates among young individuals. While caffeine leads to decreased sleep quality in adults, studies investigating how caffeine consumption affects children’s and adolescents’ sleep remain scarce. We explored the effects of regular caffeine consumption on sleep behavior and the sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) in children and adolescents (10–16 years). While later habitual bedtimes (Caffeine 23:14 ± 11.4, Controls 22:17 ± 15.4) and less time in bed were found in caffeine consumers compared to the control group (Caffeine 08:10 ± 13.3, Controls 09:03 ± 16.1), morning tiredness was unaffected. Furthermore, caffeine consumers exhibited reduced sleep EEG slow-wave activity (SWA, 1–4.5 Hz) at the beginning of the night compared to controls (20% ± 9% average reduction across all electrodes and subjects). Comparable reductions were found for alpha activity (8.25–9.75 Hz). These effects, however, disappeared in the morning hours. Our findings suggest that caffeine consumption in adolescents may lead to later bedtimes and reduced SWA, a well-established marker of sleep depth. Because deep sleep is involved in recovery processes during sleep, further research is needed to understand whether a caffeine-induced loss of sleep depth interacts with neuronal network refinement processes that occur during the sensitive period of adolescent development. View Full-Text
Keywords: caffeine; sleep EEG topography; development; children; adolescents; slow-wave activity caffeine; sleep EEG topography; development; children; adolescents; slow-wave activity

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Aepli, A.; Kurth, S.; Tesler, N.; Jenni, O.G.; Huber, R. Caffeine Consuming Children and Adolescents Show Altered Sleep Behavior and Deep Sleep. Brain Sci. 2015, 5, 441-455.

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