The New Zealand Herald
Sleep-deprived toddlers at risk: study
In a long-term study, toddlers who slept less than 10 hours a night or woke frequently at night tended to have more emotional and behavioural problems at age 5.
The researchers had expected to see a link between sleep and emotional and behavioural problems but were surprised “that the risks were so strong and consistent”, said lead author Borge Sivertsen of Uni Research Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Bergen.
“While only an experimental study can determine causality, our study does suggest that there is an increased risk of developing such problems, also after accounting for a range of other possible factors,” Sivertsen told Reuters Health.
The new results come from an ongoing study of 32,662 pairs of mothers and children in Norway supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Health.
The mothers filled out questionnaires when they were 17 weeks pregnant, when the child was 18 months old and again when the child was 5 years old.
Mothers rated 99 child behaviours on a scale from ‘‘not true’’ to ‘‘ very true’’ and reported how long the child slept in a 24-hour period and how often he or she woke up during the night. At 18 months, almost 60 per cent of toddlers were sleeping for 13 to 14 hours a night and about 2 per cent were sleeping for less than 10 hours a night. About 3 per cent of toddlers woke three or more times a night, the authors write in JAMA Pediatrics.
The researchers accounted for mother’s age, level of education, the duration of the pregnancy and number of other children and for the child’s birth weight and sex and found that those who slept less than 10 hours a night and those who woke three or more times a night at 18 months were more likely to have emotional or behavioral problems at age 5.