Toddler sleep problems tied to behavior issues later

A study has found a significant link between sleep problems during a child's first years and emotional and behavioral problems later in childhood. The findings have been published in JAMA Pediatrics.

A team of Norwegian researchers had mothers fill out questionnaires when they were 17 weeks pregnant, when the child was 18 months old, and when the child was five years old. Mothers reported how long the child slept in a 24-hour period and how disruptive the sleep might have been during the night. After analyzing the answers, the researchers found that children 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 by five years old.

The research suggested that the sleep problems were more likely to result in "internalizing problems," such as anxiety or depression, rather than "externalizing problems," such as aggression or attention deficit.

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Sourced from: Reuters, Toddlers’ sleep problems tied to behavior issues later