Washington: If children’s sleep patterns and behavioural problems aren’t taken care of by parents, they are likely to develop severe insomnia in middle age, says a new study.
Insomnia, the most common sleep disorder in adults, is estimated to affect almost one in three people. Chronic insomnia is associated with an increased risk of mental health and other health, wellbeing and economic consequences including working capacity.
The findings of this study published in JAMA Network Open journal used data from a long-running UK population study to find links between moderate to severe childhood behavioural problems and insomnia in adults by the age of 42 years old.
“This study shows a consistent association of behavioural problems during childhood, particularly at ages 5 and 10 years, with insomnia symptoms in adulthood,” said senior author Flinders University’s Robert Adams, Professor of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health (AISH) – a leading Australian research centre.
“Early intervention to manage children’s externalised behaviours, such as bullying, irritability or constant restlessness, may reduce the risk of adult insomnia,” the author added.
“Given the cost of sleep disorders, including insomnia, to every economy and society in the world, it’s another important step towards managing this endemic problem in the community,” said Flinders University lead author, Dr Yohannes Adama Melaku.
Researchers included people from the 1970 birth cohort study aged 5 (8550 participants), 10 (9090 people) and 16 years (7653) followed up to age 42 years (2012). Statistical analysis was performed from February 1 to July 15, 2019.
It focused on externalised behavioural problems reported by parents, including cases of restlessness, disobedience, fighting, bullying, property damage and theft and irritability.
They found unattended sleep patterns and problems in behaviour might be the reason behind insomnia.