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Children’s Sleep and Adjustment Over Time: The Role of Socioeconomic Context


  • This research was supported by National Science Foundation Grants 0339115 and 0623936, and Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station/Lindsey Foundation Grant ALA080-001. We acknowledge contributions made by staff of our Research Laboratory, most notably Lori Staton and Bridget Wingo, for data collection. We also thank school personnel, and children and parents who participated in this study.

concerning this article should be addressed to Mona El-Sheikh, Human Development and Family Studies, 203 Spidle Hall, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849-5214. Electronic mail may be sent to


Relations were examined between children’s sleep and their externalizing and internalizing symptoms. Longitudinal relations were examined when children were in 3rd (T1) and 5th (T2) grades, and cross-sectional relations were assessed at T2. Participants included 176 children at T1 (= 8.68 years) and 141 children at T2 (= 10.70 years). Sleep was examined via subjective reports and actigraphy. Children reported on anxiety, self-esteem, and depression symptoms, and parents reported on children’s externalizing and internalizing symptoms. Cross-sectionally and longitudinally, sleep problems were associated with worse adjustment outcomes; African American children or those from lower socioeconomic status homes were at particular risk. Findings highlight the importance of adequate sleep for children’s optimal development, especially in the context of ecological risk.