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Sleep Med. 2012 Dec;13(10):1301-6. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2012.07.003. Epub 2012 Sep 10.

Continuity and discontinuity of trouble sleeping behaviors from early childhood to young adulthood in a large Australian community-based-birth cohort study.

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School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.



To examine the continuity and discontinuity of trouble sleeping behaviors (TSB) from childhood to adolescence and young adulthood in a community-based prospective birth cohort study.


The original study comprised 7223 mother-offspring pairs who were followed prospectively at pregnancy, 6 months, 5, 14 and 21 years post-delivery. Participant numbers differ by follow-up stages. There were 3184 offspring for whom we have consistently collected information on TSB retrospectively at 2-4 years, and prospectively at 14 and 21 years of age.


These comprised maternal-reported offspring TSB at 2-4 years and 14 years, and offspring-reported trouble sleeping at 14 and 21 years. One in two children had persistent trouble sleeping from 2-4 to 14 years and two-thirds from 14 to 21 years. In the adjusted analysis, compared with 2-4-years-old children with no trouble sleeping, those who experienced trouble sleeping were 1.20 (95% CI: 1.00, 1.44) times more likely to have trouble sleeping at 21 years. Similarly, adolescents who experienced trouble sleeping were 1.94 (95% CI: 1.66, 2.27) times more likely to experience trouble sleeping at 21 years.


There is a continuity of TSB from early childhood through adolescence and young adulthood, although the persistence of TSB is strongest from adolescence to young adulthood. Interventions improving sleep in young children may prevent longer term difficulties in adolescents and young adults.

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