Between Sleep Problems
and Behavior Problems from Ages 4 to 15
M. Gregory and Thomas G. O'Connor (2002) investigated associations
between sleep problems and behavior problems in children participating
in the Colorado Adoption Project. The CBCL was completed by adoptive
parents of 245 children and biological parents of 245 children
at ages 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 years. Scores on 6
CBCL items pertaining to sleep were summed to measure sleep problems.
Although sleep problems declined significantly with age, there
was a significant predictive correlation of .29 from CBCL sleep
problems scores at age 4 to sleep problems scores in mid-adolescence.
Sleep problems scores at age 4 also predicted CBCL Anxious/Depressed,
Attention Problems, and Aggressive Behavior syndrome scores in
mid-adolescence in multiple regression equations that controlled
for adoptive status, gender, and the stability of behavioral/emotional
problems. In addition to predicting behavioral/emotional problems
over long developmental periods, sleep problems significantly
correlated with concurrent CBCL syndrome scores at ages 4 to 15.
The correlation between sleep problems and Anxious/Depressed syndrome
scores increased significantly from .39 at age 4 to .52 in mid-adolescence,
whereas correlations of sleep problems with the other syndromes
did not change significantly. Because it was unclear whether the
increases in later behavioral/emotional problems among children
who had high early sleep problems scores were caused by the early
sleep problems, Gregory and O'Connor concluded that "research
on the treatment of sleep problems is needed to further elucidate
the correlations between sleep problems and other behavioral/emotional
problems" (p. 970).
Reference: Gregory, A.M. & O'Connor, T.G. (2002).
Sleep problems in childhood: A longitudinal study of developmental
change and association with behavioral problems. Journal of
the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 41,