Auburn’s El-Sheikh, Buckhalt bring sleep, child development experts, NIH to campus

AUBURN – The first Forum on Sleep and Child Development at Auburn University, April 1-3, will bring together a select group of national and international scholars whose work demonstrates connections between family processes, pediatric sleep medicine and child development.

The forum was organized by Mona El-Sheikh, the Leonard Peterson Inc. Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Human Sciences, and Joseph Buckhalt, the Wayne T. Smith Distinguished Professor in the College of Education.

El-Sheikh and Buckhalt invited 30 key researchers and promising junior scholars to campus for the forum, with a grant from the Society for Research on Child Development and additional support from El-Sheikh’s own lab, the Child Sleep, Health and Development Laboratory.

“New discoveries are being made highlighting the importance of sleep for children’s emotional well-being, school achievement and physical health,” said El-Sheikh. “When children do not sleep well, they make bad grades, fight with their friends and family and get sick more often. Addressing these kinds of issues is the main objective of the forum.”

El-Sheikh and Buckhalt plan for the group’s discussion to focus on the advancement of ways to study such problems to improve the quality of research and ultimately develop a set of research priorities to guide the field.

A health scientist administrator from the National Institutes of Health plans to attend to gain information about cutting edge research in the field and learn about the group’s recommendations for future research that will promote children’s well-being.

Forum attendees have expertise in diverse areas such as child development, pediatric sleep medicine, psychology, anthropology and public health. Eight of the 30 attendees are Auburn faculty members and others will travel from across the country, as well as Canada, Israel and the Netherlands.

“Bringing together research and theory in these areas will improve the overall understanding of child development as it related to sleep and help establish research priorities,” said El-Sheikh.

(Written by Amy Weaver.)

Contacts: Mona El-Sheikh, College of Human Sciences, (334) 844-3294, (, or
Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999, (