Kids Who Can’t Sleep May Continue to Struggle as Adults

Sometimes kids have trouble sleeping. While that may be normal from time to time, chronic insomnia or sleep difficulty in kids could lead to poor sleep habits as an adult.

An article published in the journal Pediatrics found a high rate of children whose sleep troubles carried on from childhood into adulthood.

The study tracked 502 children from around age 9 to adolescence at age 16 and into adulthood around age 24. Researchers looked for parental or self-reports of moderate to severe difficulty falling or staying asleep. They also used polysomnography in the children and adolescents, a sleep test that measures brain waves and sleep duration.

The findings:

  • 43% of the children studied had insomnia that persisted into adulthood.
  • Children with insomnia were more than twice as likely to have insomnia as adults than the children that did not have insomnia.
  • Adolescents with insomnia were five times more likely to develop sleep difficulties when they became adults.

The takeaway:

Sleep troubles could be transient for some kids. They may grow out of it or only go through phases of sleep disturbance based on their developmental stage. But insomnia may not automatically resolve for all kids, and if it doesn’t, there appears to be a good chance that they will still struggle with sleep as an adult. Proper sleep is essential to good physical and mental health.

Kids and adolescents who don’t get enough may struggle to perform in school, experience poor digestion, or even have stunted growth. Health challenges from lack of sleep can continue into adulthood and manifest as IBS, obesity or depression, and anxiety. Keeping an eye on your kid’s and teen’s sleep habits and intervening in any trouble can help keep them healthier and happier in the long run.


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