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Sleep Med. 2006 Sep;7(6):467-73. Epub 2006 Aug 23.

Preliminary evidence for sleep complaints among children referred for anxiety.

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  • 1Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 600 North Wolfe Street/CMSC 346, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.



Clinical observation suggests that sleep complaints are common among youth with anxiety disorders though empirical data documenting this co-occurrence of symptoms are generally unavailable.


Based on retrospective chart reviews, the current study examined rates of several types of parent-reported sleep complaints among a sample of (n=35) purely anxious children and adolescents (ANX). Sleep complaints were examined in terms of age (children versus adolescents) and type of anxiety diagnosis (generalized anxiety versus other anxious diagnoses). Rates of sleep complaints among anxious youth also were compared to those among (n=38) healthy control children and (n=33) children referred for sleep problems.


The presence of at least one intermittent sleep complaint was reported by 83% of parents of ANX, with almost half reporting at least one frequent sleep complaint. Rates of sleep complaints among anxious children versus adolescents were similar. Children with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) had a significantly greater number of sleep complaints than children with other types of anxiety disorders, though rates for specific items varied. Although parents of sleep-referred children reported the highest rates of sleep complaints overall, the frequency of several specific types of sleep complaints was highly similar among ANX and sleep-referred children.


Findings indicate that certain sleep complaints are common among ANX. The need for appropriate assessment practices is discussed.

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