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Child Care Health Dev. 2011 Jul;37(4):563-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2010.01203.x. Epub 2011 Jan 31.

An hour less sleep is a risk factor for childhood conduct problems.

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Division of Clinical Neurosciences, School of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Highfield, Southampton, UK.



There is emerging evidence that sleep problems in childhood may have enduring consequences. Studies using parental and objective sleep measurement suggest that sleep difficulties in children may be associated with behavioural problems. However, the findings using objective sleep measures are inconsistent and it is not clear what aspects of sleep quality are associated with daytime behavioural difficulties. The aim of this paper is to identify which behavioural symptoms are best predicted by actigraphic sleep measures in a general population sample of school-aged children aged 6-11 years.


Actigraphy was used to measure sleep in 91 typically developing children aged 6-11 years for 6 days. Parents completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). A series of multivariate linear regression models were computed to analyse the effects of sleep on SDQ subscales.


Sleep did not predict emotional symptoms or hyperactivity. After controlling for age and gender, sleep accounted for 18% of the variance in conduct problems. Only actual sleep time in minutes made a significant contribution to the model.


A child who sleeps 1 h less than the average child may be at risk of conduct problems. Clinicians should consider routinely screening for sleep difficulties when assessing children with conduct problems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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