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VOLUME 30, ISSUE 10


Prevalence and Course of Sleep Problems in Childhood

Leonie Fricke-Oerkermann, PhD1; Julia Plück, PhD1; Michael Schredl, PhD3; Kathrin Heinz, BA1; Alexander Mitschke, MD2; Alfred Wiater, MD2; Gerd Lehmkuhl, MD, PhD1

1Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Cologne, Germany; 2Department of Pediatrics, Hospital Cologne Porz/Rhine, Cologne, Germany; 3Sleep Laboratory, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany



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Study Objectives:

The Cologne Children’s Sleep Study intended to provide information on prevalence and course of difficulties of initiating and maintaining sleep in childhood.

Design:

Longitudinal study.

Setting:

Children of the fourth grade of elementary schools in Cologne.

Participants:

832 children and their parents; the mean age of the children
was 9.4, 10.7, and 11.7 years at the 3 assessments.

Measurements and Results:

Children and parents were surveyed using questionnaires 3 times on an annual basis. In self- and parental reports, about 30%-40% of the children of the longitudinal sample had problems falling asleep at the first assessment. One year later, about 30% to 40% of these children did not describe any difficulties initiating sleep, whereas about 60% did report continuing difficulties initiating sleep. Difficulties maintaining sleep are less common in childhood. The analysis of self- and parental reports revealed that in general children described significantly more difficulties initiating and maintaining sleep than their parents report.

Conclusions:

Difficulties initiating and maintaining sleep may be transient or persistent. In practice, children and adolescents should be included in the diagnostic and therapeutic process.
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