A short sleep duration appears to be associated with an increased risk of an emotional disorder (anxiety and depression) in both boys and girls and with a behavioural disorder (defiance, inappropriate conduct, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity) in boys only

In December 2019 researchers from Norway published the results of their study to assess the association between sleep duration and symptoms of emotional and behavioral disorders in children. A total of 799 children (405 boys, 394 girls) were involved in the study and were followed up every two years from the age of 4 years until they were aged 12. Sleep duration was assessed with 1 week of continuous use of a triaxial accelerometer. Information on symptoms of emotion (anxiety and depression) and behaviour (defiance, inappropriate conduct, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity) was collected via interviews with the parents (at all ages) and with children (from age 8 years). Results showed that a shorter sleep duration at age 6 years and 8 years predicted symptoms of emotional disorders 2 years later. In addition, a comparatively short sleep duration at age 8 years and 10 years was significantly associated with symptoms of behavioural disorders 2 years later in boys but not in girls. The researchers concluded that improving sleep in children may help to protect them against the development of symptoms of common psychiatric disorders and may also be advantageous in the treatment of such disorders.

Ranum BM et al. Association Between Objectively Measured Sleep Duration and Symptoms of Psychiatric Disorders in Middle Childhood. JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Dec 2;2(12):e1918281.

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