Annual Research Review: Sleep problems in childhood psychiatric disorders – a review of the latest science

Gregory, Alice M. and Sadeh, Avi. 2016. Annual Research Review: Sleep problems in childhood psychiatric disorders – a review of the latest science. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 57(3), pp. 296-317. ISSN 0021-9630 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Hippocrates flagged the value of sleep for good health. Nonetheless, historically, researchers with an interest in developmental psychopathology have largely ignored a possible role for atypical sleep. Recently, however, there has been a surge of interest in this area, perhaps reflecting increased evidence that disturbed or insufficient sleep can result in poor functioning in numerous domains. This review outlines what is known about sleep in the psychiatric diagnoses most relevant to children and for which associations with sleep are beginning to be understood. While based on a comprehensive survey of the literature, the focus of the current review is on the latest science (largely from 2010). There is a description of both concurrent and longitudinal links as well as possible mechanisms underlying associations. Preliminary treatment research is also considered which suggests that treating sleep difficulties may result in improvements in behavioural areas beyond sleep quality.

To maximise progress in this field, there now needs to be: (a) greater attention to the assessment of sleep in children; (b) sleep research on a wider range of psychiatric disorders; (c) a greater focus on and examination of mechanisms underlying associations; (d) a clearer consideration ofdevelopmental questions and (e) large-scale well-designed treatment studies.

While sleep problems may sometimes be missed by parents and healthcare providers; hence constituting a hidden risk for other psychopathologies – knowing about these difficulties creates unique opportunities. The current excitement in this field from experts in diverse areas including developmental psychology, clinical psychology, genetics and neuropsychology should make these opportunities a reality.

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Sleep; psychopathology; child; adolescent; review

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1 March 2016Published
28 September 2015Published Online
3 August 2015Accepted

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Date Deposited:

28 Aug 2015 09:28

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:11

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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