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J Paediatr Child Health. 2012 Dec;48(12):1076-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2012.02466.x. Epub 2012 May 23.

Sleep problems and mental health in primary school new entrants: cross-sectional community-based study.

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Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.



To determine at school entry (i) the prevalence and types of child sleep problems; (ii) sleep difficulties and hygiene practices associated with sleep problems; and (iii) their associations with child health-related quality of life, mental health and parent mental health.


We conducted a cross-sectional community-based study at 22 primary schools in Melbourne, Australia. One thousand five hundred and twelve (70%) parents of children in the first 6 months of the child's first year of primary school took part. Parent report of child sleep problems (none, mild, and moderate/severe); sleep difficulties; pre-bedtime activities (television in bedroom, television or electronic games before bedtime, television or electronic games >2 h/day) and caffeine intake; child mental health (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire), health-related quality of life (Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory); and parent mental health (Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21).


38.6% of children had a parent-reported sleep problem (27.9% mild, 10.8% moderate/severe). Sleep problems were characterised by problematic sleep difficulties but not poor sleep hygiene practices. Moderate/severe sleep problems were associated with poorer child mental health (mean difference -0.8; 95% confidence interval (CI) -1.1 to -0.5, P < 0.001), health-related quality of life (mean difference -9.9; 95% CI -11.9 to -7.9, P < 0.001) and parent mental health (mean difference 9.8; 95% CI 7.7-11.9, P < 0.001).


In new school entrants, sleep problems are common and associated with poorer child mental health, health-related quality of life and parent mental health. Future research needs to determine if systematically addressing sleep problems improves these outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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