Karen Spruyt, PhD, earned her degree in child, adolescent, and adult clinical psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, in 1996. Her passion for neuropsychology later resulted in a master’s thesis on the neuropsychological functioning of epileptic children, co-supervised by Professor Marit Korkman (University of Helsinki, Finland) and extra training in developmental neuropsychology alongside professor emeritus Dirk Bakker. Concurrently, in 2002 and 2003, Dr. Spruyt earned her master’s degree in quantitative analysis for social sciences/statistics at the Katholieke Universiteit Brussel/Leuven (Belgium). She earned her PhD in 2005 at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium). The title of the PhD thesis was “Pediatric Sleep Problems: a contribution to their identification and relationship with daytime behavior”.
In 2006, Dr. Spruyt was awarded a visiting academic fellowship, funded by the Monash Institute of Medical Research, to perform pediatric sleep research alongside Professor Rosemary Horne at the Ritchie Center for Baby Health Research in Melbourne, Australia.
In 2009, Dr. Spruyt was awarded the Comer Golf Classic award at the University of Chicago. In 2012, Dr. Spruyt became an Adjunct Professor of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Department of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Shanghai Children's Medical Center affiliated with Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China.
Dr. Spruyt’s expertise in teaching psychology, its subdisciplines and statistics, has allowed her to interact with multidisciplinary research teams, and to perform translational research in her domains of interest: developmental neuropsychology and somnopathology. She researches the impact of sleep on neurobehavioral function in children. She investigates the neuropsychological repercussions of a sleep problem in a (atypical) developing child: day and night expression of altered brain maturation in the frontostriatal system, neuropsychological dysfunctions in specific sleep problems, and psychological interventions that might alleviate disturbed sleep.
Dr. Spruyt has been researching and lecturing in the field of sleep medicine and developmental neuropsychology for more than fifteen years. She has published her research in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals and has authored two widely used books on sleep and pediatric sleep problems. She has been invited to present her research at international conferences all over the world. Her research has been featured in many international publications and on TV and radio programs. Dr. Spruyt's research on sleep disorders and their prevalence among children was cited by Steven Vanackere, Flemish Minister of Well-Being, Public Health and Family when speaking before the Belgian Legislature in April 2008. The Minister of Well-Being referred to Dr. Spruyt's work regarding the number of hours of sleep that Flemish children average and the quality of sleep in seeking to solve what was possibly a national sleep crisis.
Dr. Spruyt is an ad hoc reviewer for professional journals as well as for grant funding organizations.