Introduction: Sleeping difficulties in children can affect learning and behaviour. Parental understanding of sleep can differ from what clinicians define as a sleep problem. It is therefore important to have information on sleep in Danish children in order to be able to advice parents on normal and deviant sleep. The purpose of this article is to describe the sleep in Danish healthy children.
Methods and materials: We examined 211 healthy children aged 6-11 years, recruited in a public school. Their sleep was evaluated objectively with actigraphy. Sleep patterns and sleep problems were examined by means of a questionnaire completed by parents. The objective and subjective measurements were compared.
Results: The most frequently reported sleep problem was fear of falling asleep in the dark, which 19.4% reported. Unwillingness to go to bed was reported in 7.1% and 7.5% had difficulties falling asleep. Actigraphic-measured sleep onset latency was on average 13.5 minutes, while parents reported an average of 21.5 minutes.
Conclusion: The results comply with other findings. As in other sleep studies we found that parents estimate the child's sleep to be poorer than it actually is, although the discrepancy is less than seen in clinical populations. Detailed sleep history, possibly in combination with a sleep diary, can usually identify sleep problems and might be the first step in an effective treatment. Furthermore, actigraphy can be an effective supplement in the unravelling of sleep difficulties.