Sleep duration and regularity are associated with behavioral problems in 8-year-old children

Anu Katriina Pesonen, Katri Räikkönen, E. Juulia Paavonen, Kati Heinonen, Niina Komsi, Jari Lahti, Eero Kajantie, Anna Liisa Järvenpää, Timo Strandberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Relatively little is known about the significance of normal variation in objectively assessed sleep duration and its regularity in children's psychological well-being. Purpose: We explored the associations between sleep duration and regularity and behavioral and emotional problems in 8-year-old children. Methods: A correlational design was applied among an epidemiological sample of children born in 1998. Sleep was registered with an actigraph for seven nights (range 3 to 14) in 2006. Mothers (n=280) and fathers (n=190) rated their child's behavioral problems with the Child Behavior Checklist. Results: Children with short sleep duration had an increased risk for behavioral problems, thought problems, and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition-based attention-deficit hyperactivity problems according to maternal ratings. Based on paternal ratings, short sleep duration was associated with more rule-breaking and externalizing symptoms. Irregularity in sleep duration from weekdays to weekends was associated with an increased risk for specifically internalizing symptoms in paternal ratings. Conclusions: The results highlight the importance of sufficient sleep duration and regular sleep patterns from weekdays to weekends. Short sleep duration was associated specifically with problems related to attentional control and externalizing behaviors, whereas irregularity in sleep duration was, in particular, associated with internalizing problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-305
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Actigraphy
  • ADHD
  • Behavioral problems
  • Epidemiological study
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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