Sleep of preschool children with night-time fears

The Adler Center for Research in Child Development and Psychopathology, Department of Psychology, Tel-Aviv University, Israel.
Sleep Medicine (Impact Factor: 3.15). 10/2011; 12(9):870-4. DOI: 10.1016/j.sleep.2011.03.022
Source: PubMed


Night-time fears are very common in preschool and early school years. However, to date, the links between night-time fears and sleep have not been assessed systematically. The aim of this study was to evaluate natural sleep patterns in children with night-time fears, and to assess the association between parental fear-related strategies and children's sleep disruptions.
Sleep was assessed in a sample of 109 preschool children (64 boys and 45 girls) aged 4-6 years suffering from significant night-time fears, and in 30 healthy controls using actigraphy and parental reports.
Controls slept significantly better than the children with night-time fears. The disrupted sleep patterns of the children with night-time fears were reflected in a higher number of actigraphic night wakings, shorter periods of continuous sleep, shorter true sleep time, and a lower percentage of actual sleep time. Similar findings were manifested in sleep measures reported by the parents. Parental fear-management strategies were found to be linked to impaired actigraphic sleep measurements.
Children with night-time fears are at risk for developing poor sleep quality, which may further compromise their psychological well-being.

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