Sleep and Behavior Problems Among Preschoolers

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This study described the relationship between amount of sleep and behavior problems among preschoolers. Participants were 510 children aged 2 to 5 years who were enrolled through 68 private pediatric practices. Parents reported on the amount of sleep their child obtained at night and in 24-hour periods. With demographic variables controlled, regression models were used to determine whether sleep was associated with behavior problems. The relationship between less sleep at night and the presence of a DSM-III-R psychiatric diagnosis was significant (odds ratio = 1.23, p = .026). Less night sleep (p < .0001) and less sleep in a 24-hour period (p < .004) were associated with increased total behavior problems on the Child Behavior Checklist; less night sleep (p < .0002) and less 24-hour sleep (p < .004) were also associated with more externalizing problems on that measure. Further research is needed to ascertain whether sleep is playing a causal role in the increase of behavior problems.

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