Study Finds Association Between Childhood Behavioral Problems and Insomnia Symptoms in Adulthood

September 13th 2019
Jill Murphy, Assistant Editor
Jill Murphy, Assistant Editor

Researchers in the U.K. have found associations of early-life behavioral problems, particularly early- and middle-childhood externalizing problems, with insomnia symptoms in adulthood.

Researchers in the U.K. have found associations of early-life behavioral problems, particularly early- and middle-childhood externalizing problems, with insomnia symptoms in adulthood.

The objective of this study was to investigate the association between behavioral problems at ages 5, 10, and 16 years old and self-reported insomnia symptoms at 42 years old.

The study used data from the United Kingdom 1970 Birth Cohort Study, which is an ongoing large-scale follow-up study. Participants were followed from birth in 1970 to age 42 in 2012. Analyses were performed from February 1 to July 15, 2019.

The participants were followed up with at age 5, 10, or 16 until age 42. The behavior was measured using the Rutter Behavioral Scale (RBS), with participants being classified as normal, moderate, and severe using this scale.

The results showed that there was a higher risk of difficulties initiating or maintaining sleep (DIMS) for participants with severe behavioral problems at 5 years old compared to those with a normal RBS score. Moderate and severe behavioral problems at age 16 were positively associated with DIMS. Externalizing behavioral problems at 5 and 10 years of age were positively associated with insomnia symptoms at 42 years of age.

This study emphasizes the importance of addressing insomnia from a life-course perspective and considering the benefits of early behavioral intervention to sleep health.

Reference

Melaku YA, Appleton S, Reynolds AC, et al. Association between childhood behavioral problems and insomnia symptoms in adulthood.JAMA.2019;2(9):e1910861. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.10861.

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