Sleep Problems In Infancy Are Associated With Emotional And Behavioural Problems Later: Study

Infants who sleep for shorter periods of time, take longer to fall asleep and wake up frequently during the night are more likely to show emotional and behavioural problems in later stages of childhood, according to a study published in the journal BMJ Paediatrics Open.

The study shows for the first time how sleep problems in infancy and very early childhood are associated with emotional and behavioural problems later in childhood.

These findings highlight the need to address infant sleep problems at an early stage to prevent the development or worsening of future emotional and behavioural problems in later stages of childhood.

It was found that high frequency of night waking at 3 months was strongly linked to emotional, behavioural and self-regulation problems in toddlers.

Infants who experienced shorter sleep duration, who took longer to fall asleep and who experienced frequent night wakings at different stages of early childhood were likely to find problems in regulating their behaviour and emotions at the age of 24 months.

The study showed that infants who sleep for shorter periods of time, take longer to fall asleep and wake up more frequently during the night are more likely to show emotional and behavioural problems in later stages of childhood.

The study suggests that infant sleep problems may be due to a variety of mechanisms, including genetic and environmental factors. Scientists think there are links in the central nervous system between sleep-wake behaviour and our emotions, and so it’s possible these links have a biological basis.

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