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Sleep problems and mental health in primary school new entrants: Cross-sectional community-based study

Authors

  • Jon Quach,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne
    2. Community Child Health, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
      Dr Jon Quach, Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia. Fax: 61 39345 5900; email: jon.quach@mcri.edu.au
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  • Harriet Hiscock,

    1. Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne
    2. Community Child Health, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
    3. Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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  • Melissa Wake

    1. Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne
    2. Community Child Health, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
    3. Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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  • Competing interests: All authors declare that they have no financial relationship relevant to this article to disclose and have no conflict of interests.

  • Funding: Jon Quach was supported by postgraduate scholarship 491280 from the Australian National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Melissa Wake was supported by NHMRC Population Health Career Development Grants 284556 and 546405, and Harriet Hiscock was supported by NHMRC Public Health Capacity Building Grant 436914. Research at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute is supported by the Victorian Government's Operational Infrastructure Program.

Dr Jon Quach, Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia. Fax: 61 39345 5900; email: jon.quach@mcri.edu.au

Abstract

Aims:  To determine at school entry (i) the prevalence and types of child sleep problems; (ii) sleep difficulties and hygiene practices associated with sleep problems; and (iii) their associations with child health-related quality of life, mental health and parent mental health.

Methods:  We conducted a cross-sectional community-based study at 22 primary schools in Melbourne, Australia. One thousand five hundred and twelve (70%) parents of children in the first 6 months of the child's first year of primary school took part. Parent report of child sleep problems (none, mild, and moderate/severe); sleep difficulties; pre-bedtime activities (television in bedroom, television or electronic games before bedtime, television or electronic games >2 h/day) and caffeine intake; child mental health (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire), health-related quality of life (Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory); and parent mental health (Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21).

Results:  38.6% of children had a parent-reported sleep problem (27.9% mild, 10.8% moderate/severe). Sleep problems were characterised by problematic sleep difficulties but not poor sleep hygiene practices. Moderate/severe sleep problems were associated with poorer child mental health (mean difference −0.8; 95% confidence interval (CI) −1.1 to −0.5, P < 0.001), health-related quality of life (mean difference −9.9; 95% CI −11.9 to −7.9, P < 0.001) and parent mental health (mean difference 9.8; 95% CI 7.7–11.9, P < 0.001).

Conclusions:  In new school entrants, sleep problems are common and associated with poorer child mental health, health-related quality of life and parent mental health. Future research needs to determine if systematically addressing sleep problems improves these outcomes.

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