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TMJ Blog

06. 11. 2020

Physicians Only

Sleep Difficulties in Preschoolers Associated with Behavioral Disorders

SleepAches

Sleep Difficulties in Preschoolers Associated with Behavioral Disorders

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health has presented a study in which preschoolers with behavioral and communication disorders may have higher rates of sleep disorders. A diagnosis of a behavioral disorder or communication disorder was significantly associated with parent-reported sleep problems. Parents who have children with current behavioral disorders are also more likely to report that their child has trouble falling asleep, parents of children with communication disorders are more likely to report their child waking up often at night, and parents of children with developmental coordination disorder were less likely to report either sleep symptom. The presence of behavioral disorders in children predicted an increase in parental reports of sleep problems. Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is the main diagnosis composing this category. The present results are consistent with studies showing that ODD is associated with significantly higher levels of concurrent sleep problems in older children aged 9 to 16 years. Sleep problems were also associated with behavioral problems in a community sample of preschoolers aged four to five years. As adults, we know that sleep plays a vital role in mental health and stability. Sleep disturbances in school-aged children go hand-in-hand with anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems. Additionally, this ties into academic difficulties, learning disabilities, impaired performance and cognitive dysfunction.

Psychiatric diagnoses obtained from the evaluations are pooled into 4 categories: behavioral, relational, developmental coordination, and communication disorders. In this article, the final sample was comprised of 228 children. Overall, 39.0% of children were diagnosed with a behavioral disorder, 44.7% with a relational disorder, 76.8% with developmental coordination disorder, and 77.6% with a communication disorder. “A better understanding of the relationship between sleep and psychiatric disorders in this vulnerable population will provide insight into the use of more specific and appropriate interventions,” the investigators wrote.

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