Sleep and Mental Health related in Children

Posted on May 15, 2015

The new study, which was recently published in the respected Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, shows that the correlation between sleep disorders and psychiatric disorders is also found over time and that the relationship is reciprocal.

NTNU researchers conducted diagnostic interviews with the parents of the children participating in the study. The interview was based on the DSM-IV diagnostic manual, which contains the official diagnostic criteria for mental disorders.

One thousand four-year-olds participated in the study. Parents of around 800 of these children were interviewed again two years later. The comprehensive study was part of a longitudinal study in Trondheim that examines the incidence, progression and risk factors for the development of mental health problems in children. The project conducted follow-up visits with the children and their parents every other year. The researchers reported a significant correlation between sleep disorders and psychiatric disorders.

Can we say that poor sleep causes psychiatric problems – or do psychiatric problems cause poor sleep? The findings from the study suggest that the relationship goes both ways.
One possible explanation for this reciprocity may be that both conditions are biologically determined, by common underlying genetics, for example.

Another explanation may be that insufficient sleep creates general functional impairment, and that the risk of other problems therefore increases – in the same way that psychiatric symptoms often result in poorer everyday functioning, which in turn may negatively affect sleep.

Perhaps sleep disorders and mental health issues share the same risk factors. A child who shows signs of anxiety or a behavioural disorder may easily end up in a vicious cycle, where conflict with adults triggers anxiety and in turn leads to trouble falling asleep.

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Category(s):Child Development

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