IF you thought that young children were the lucky ones to enjoy peaceful sleep, you may be wrong.
A new study has revealed that as many as 42 per cent little ones, many of them being from nuclear families, have sleep-related problems.
This is the result of change in lifestyle parameters such as watching television, sedentary habits, junk food, working parents and school pressure, say psychologists.
There are concerns that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a condition in which children are not able to concentrate and stay quiet, may also be related to sleep problems, Dr Manveer Bhatia, a paediatrician with well-known Indian hospital, Gangaram Hospital said.
Besides affecting scholastic performance of children and causing mood swings, sleep problems may even get worse with age, he said. Sleep-related problems in children include teeth clenching or grinding, bed wetting, sleep talking, nightmares, night terrors, snoring and sleep walking, according to the new study published in the journal 'Indian Pediatrics'.
Another study in the 'Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology' among 1000 individuals had supported a link between persistent sleep problems in childhood and diagnosed anxiety in adulthood. It provided an evidence of the association between childhood sleep problems and psychiatric disorders in adulthood.
"One possible mechanism underlying the association of sleep problems with anxiety is that both have similar underlying risk factors," it said.
According to the new study carried out by scientists from Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, "As many as 42 per cent of the parents reported some form of sleep problem (in their children)."
However, Dr Veena Kalra from Department of paediatrics, in All India Institute of Medical Sciences said though sleep disturbances were common in children, the prevalence was not as high as 42 per cent. Besides, in most of the cases these are self limiting.
Concentrate and stay quiet, may also be related to sleep problems, Dr Manveer Bhatia, a paediatrician with well-known Indian hospital, Gangaram Hospital said.
A team comprising Bhavneet Bharti, Prahbjot Malhi and Sapna Kashyap reported in the jouranl 'Indian Pediatrics' that the recent trends for urbanisation, family nucleation and working-parent culture had altered the traditional fabric of Indian society, which might adversely affect the conundrum of common childhood behavioural problems including sleep.
"Our study revealed that nuclear family is an independent predictor of sleep problems, though underlying causal factors can not be deciphered...," they said.
But, Dr Sameer Parikh, a well-known Indian psychiatrist, said drawing a link between nuclear families and sleep problems in children may be an exaggeration. Working parents who come back home late, homework-related stress and watching TV at bedtime did contribute to sleep problems in children, he said.
The 'Indian Pediatrics' study was carried out among 103 young schoolgoing children aged three-ten years. The average duration of daily sleep (daytime and night) was about 10 hours.
Parikh said junk food and sedentary lifestyles also contributed to manifestation of sleep problems in children, who should be encouraged to read at bedtime.
Dr Anupam Sibal of Apollo Hospital said a larger, "robust" study was needed to draw any link between nuclear families and sleep problems.
Agreeing with the 'Indian Pediatrics' study, he said sleep problems may be under-reported as parents often consider these as part of normal growing up process or may be ignorant.
In the study, bedwetting was the most common problem, reported in over 18 per cent of children. It was followed by sleep talking (14.6 per cent), teeth clenching or grinding (11.7 per cent), snoring (5.8 per cent), nightmares (6.8 per cent), sleep terrors (2.9 per cent) and sleep walking (1.9 per cent).
The team reported that prevalence of co-sleeping was higher than that in developed countries and it did not decrease with increasing age as 91 per cent of the children above seven years still shared the bed with their parents.