News from our lab Ongoing Research Science Journalism

What a year!

Text Matthieu Beaugrand

At the end of this special year, we are taking advantage of the pre-Christmas period to take stock of the events experienced this year by our Baby Sleep Laboratory.

After several years of data collection for our major project in Zurich by Sarah Schoch, we are now in the exciting phase of data analysis. In spite of the restrictions on gatherings, we have been able to present the project virtually at national and international conferences. Sarah is nearing the end of her PhD, for which she has given her all. We are also proud and grateful for the support of our master and bachelor students and trainees.

This year has been full of challenges. Due to the unforeseen delays in our research, the new studies were abruptly interrupted by the pandemic. In addition, the company, with which we have been carrying out electroencephalogram measurements for a decade, announced its closure. Moreover, on the way from Zurich to Fribourg our laboratory crossed the Röstigraben to continue our research on the French-speaking side of Switzerland. Our new team, joined by new doctoral students Christophe Mühlematter, Matthieu Beaugrand and soon Angela Hechler, as well as post-doctoral students Andjela Markovic and Valeria Jaramillo, maintains a strong team spirit despite the distance imposed by the virus.

Thanks to a strong team effort, we were able to find alternatives and quickly develop an online study in 5 languages to study children’s sleep during containment. Preliminary insights from this study uncover an acute deterioration of young children’s sleep in April 2020, yet also the adaptation to the new situation by rebalancing sleep quality in summer 2020. In addition, several factors seem to protect sleep quality, such as the presence of siblings or the time parents spend on mindfulness techniques and childcare. Yet, we will inform about the final outcome, once the investigation is finalised.

Finally, we just published an article in the magazine Sensors and we are in the process of completing the scientific article in which we present our first analysis on the connection between sleep and gut bacteria. We are also busy analysing the data on infant brain activity, and examine which areas of the brain of babies sleep deepest, or how the different areas are connected to each other.

We wish you a wonderful Christmas and a healthy start to 2021.

Best regards from the entire Baby Sleep Laboratory team

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