Behavioural Problems in Kids Highly Predictable With Less Sleep

March 01, 2017
A cohort study of almost 9000 preschool-aged children showed that those who averaged fewer than 9 hours of sleep per night were significantly more likely to show impulsivity, anger, and overactivity and to have tantrums than their peers who averaged more nightly sleep. The children with less sleep were also 80% more likely to show aggression.
Although the study could not prove causality, the researchers note that the findings do suggest that sleep duration is critically important to a young person's health and well-being.
The study is published in the July/August issue of the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.
Bad Behavior Not the Only Problem
A recent study, reported by Medscape Medical News, showed that irregular bedtimes throughout early childhood can impair cognitive development.
"Reduced or disrupted sleep, especially if it occurs at key times in development, could have important impacts on health throughout life," wrote the study authors at the time.
As the amount of disrupted sleep patterns increased so did the prevalence of aggression, tantrums, impulsivity and anger.
Boys who watched more than 2 hours of television per night and boys who had mothers with depressive symptoms had worse overall behaviour scores than other subgroups.
Dr. Stein highlighted some limitations with this study noting "Parental reports about how much their children are sleeping are not 100% accurate. So with all of these factors considered, it was impressive how strong the relationship [between sleep duration and behaviours] was and that it came through so clearly," she said.