Children Who Settle to Sleep Also Settle Into School

Children who soothe themselves back to sleep from an early age adjusts to school more easily than those who don’t, new Australian research has found.

The study, conducted at the Queensland University of Technology, revealed one in three children have escalating problems sleeping across birth to five years, which increased their risk of emotional and behavioral issues at school and put them at risk of attention deficit disorders.

The research involved 2,880 children from the landmark study, Growing up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC).

She analysed the sleep behavior of children born in 2004 until they reached six-to-seven years.

“We now know 70-percent of children are regulating their own sleep by five years, but for the remaining third it may be detrimental to them developmentally over time,” said Dr. Kate Williams from QUT’s Faculty of Education.

“The overwhelming finding is it’s vital to get children’s sleep behaviors right by the time they turn five.”

Dr. Williams said she was surprised by the high number of children identified as having escalating behavioral sleep problems across birth to five years, which was linked with poorer self-regulation of attention and emotion.

She said children characterized as having escalating sleep problems in early childhood were associated with higher teacher-reported hyperactivity, poorer classroom self-regulation and emotional outbursts.

“If these sleep issues aren’t resolved by the time children are five years old then, they are at risk of poorer adjustment to school,” said Dr. Williams. “Parents can withdraw some habits, like lying with children over and over and letting them into their bed.  It’s really important to give children a sense of skill so they can do these things themselves.”

The research, which was one of the first to use a large sample size and examine the long-term impact of children’s sleep on early school behavior, was published in the British Journal of Educational Psychology.

Source: News Release