Children who behave badly are more likely to suffer insomnia in later life

Tuesday 10th September 2019 09:49 EDT

Children who are badly behaved are more likely to suffer from insomnia when they are adults, research suggests. Scientists at Flinders University in Australia analysed data from 25,000 children, all of whom were tracked until they turned 42. Results showed the youngsters who had severe behavioural issues aged five were almost 40 per cent more likely to have insomnia later in life. The experts found there was a similar risk, either 28 or 67 per cent, if they displayed poor behaviour aged 16, depending on its severity.

Bad behaviour included lying, disobedience, bullying, stealing, destroying belongings, fighting and restlessness. It is believed behavioural issues in childhood could lead to similar problems in adults or poor mental health, if they are not addressed early on. And living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep, according to the charity Mind. The results of the study – carried out over 37 years – were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association's Network Open. Parents of all the participants were asked about behavioural problems when the youngsters were five, 10 and 16. All of the volunteers were then quizzed about their sleeping difficulties when they were in their early forties. About one in three people are thought to suffer from insomnia to some degree. The NHS says adults need between one and three hours sleep.

It can be caused by stress, mental health disorders and consuming alcohol or caffeine too late in the afternoon. However, research has recently started to delve into whether the cure for tossing and turning relentlessly during the night could be genetic. Professor Robert Adams, co-author of the study, said the findings suggest tackling bad behaviour early on could slash the odds of children becoming insomniacs.

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