Prevalence and course of sleep problems in childhood

Sleep. 2007 Oct;30(10):1371-7. doi: 10.1093/sleep/30.10.1371.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child Development*
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires