Sleep and behavior problems among preschoolers

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1999 Jun;20(3):164-9. doi: 10.1097/00004703-199906000-00005.


This study described the relationship between amount of sleep and behavior problems among preschoolers. Participants were 510 children aged 2 to 5 years who were enrolled through 68 private pediatric practices. Parents reported on the amount of sleep their child obtained at night and in 24-hour periods. With demographic variables controlled, regression models were used to determine whether sleep was associated with behavior problems. The relationship between less sleep at night and the presence of a DSM-III-R psychiatric diagnosis was significant (odds ratio = 1.23, p = .026). Less night sleep (p < .0001) and less sleep in a 24-hour period (p < .004) were associated with increased total behavior problems on the Child Behavior Checklist; less night sleep (p < .0002) and less 24-hour sleep (p < .004) were also associated with more externalizing problems on that measure. Further research is needed to ascertain whether sleep is playing a causal role in the increase of behavior problems.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child Behavior Disorders / complications
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychological Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / complications
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / diagnosis*