Extensive scientific efforts have been made in an attempt to identify early markers of behavioral and emotional problems. In this context, sleep has received considerable research attention, as it appears to be closely linked to developmental psychopathology. The present review synthesizes some of the most recent findings regarding the concurrent and longitudinal associations between psychopathology and behavioral manifestations of sleep in childhood and adolescence.
Recent evidence suggests that compromised sleep is associated with both internalizing and externalizing problems in childhood and adolescence. Moreover, sleep problems have been shown to predict the development of various emotional and behavioral problems, including depression, anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, risk-taking and aggression. Yet, inconsistencies are apparent, particularly among findings that are based on objective sleep measurement.
Taken together, most recent findings suggest that poor sleep in childhood and adolescence constitutes a risk factor for psychopathological symptoms. Accordingly, the importance of early detection and intervention should be a primary goal in clinical settings. In the research domain, the underlying mechanism of these associations should receive future research attention, in an attempt to broaden the understanding of the relationship between sleep and psychopathology.
aSchool of Psychological Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv
bDepartment of Psychology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
Correspondence to Avi Sadeh, School of Psychological Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 6997801, Israel. Tel: +972 36409296; e-mail: Sadeh@post.tau.ac.il