ANN ARBOR, MI Children who snore often are nearly twice as likely as other children to have attention and hyperactivity problems, and the link is strong for other sleep problems, a new University of Michigan Health System study finds. The results, published in the March issue of the journal Pediatrics, provide some of the most solid evidence ever of a link between sleep problems and behavior.
The link is strongest in boys under 8 years of age; habitual snorers in this group were more than three times more likely than non-snorers to be hyperactive. The study, based on a survey of the parents of 866 children that was conducted in the waiting rooms of U-M pediatrics clinics, is among the largest ever to explore the connection between sleep and inattention/hyperactivity.
While the study does not provide any clues as to whether and how sleep problems might contribute to behavior issues, or vice versa, the evidence of a link between the two is strong enough to warrant further and thorough investigation, says lead author Ronald Chervin, M.D., M.S., director of the Michael S. Aldrich Sleep Disorders Laboratory and associate professor of neurology at the U-M Medical School.
If there is indeed a cause-and-effect link, sleep problems in children could represent a major public health issue, says Chervin. Its conceivable that by better identifying and treating childrens snoring and other nighttime breathing problems, we could help address some of the most common and challenging childhood behavioral issues. But more research will be necessary to show whether this is the case.
Until then, he suggests, all parents should pay attention to their childrens sleep behaviors and their own. Sleep problems in both children and adults are under-diagnosed, even though they can have a major impact on daytime activity and health. Better sleep habits, a
Contact: Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System