Relatively little is known about sleep habits, sleep disturbances, and the consequences of disordered sleep in school-aged children. This descriptive study examined a variety of common sleep behaviors in a group of 494 elementary school children, grades kindergarten through fourth, using a battery of sleep questionnaires that included parent, teacher, and self-report surveys. The prevalence of parent-defined sleep problems ranged from 3.7% (Sleep-Disordered Breathing) to 15.1% (Bedtime Resistance), with 37% of the overall sample described as having significant sleep problems in at least one sleep domain. Younger children were more likely than older children to have sleep problems noted by parents (particularly bedtime struggles and night wakings), as well as by teacher and self-report. Children tended to identify more sleep problems by self-report, particularly sleep-onset delay and night wakings, than did their parents. Overall, approximately 10% of the sample was identified by all three measures as having significant problems with daytime sleepiness. The results of this study emphasize the importance of screening for sleep disorders in this age group in the clinical setting. The need for consensus regarding the use of sleep screening instruments and the definition of “problem” sleep in school-aged children is also discussed.
Address for reprints: Judith A. Owens, M.D., M.P.H., Rhode Island Hospital, Division of Pediatric Ambulatory Medicine, Potter Building, Suite 200, Providence, RI 02903; fax: 401-444-6218.
© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.