A community-based study of sleep and behaviour problems in 12- to 36-month-old children

Child Care Health Dev. 2012 May;38(3):379-89. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2011.01252.x. Epub 2011 Jun 8.


Background: While evidence suggests sleep problems are common in young children and linked to behavioural problems, studies of toddlers are rare. This community-based cross-sectional study examined associations between sleep problems and daytime behaviour among 58 children aged 1 to 3 years who attended daycare centres.

Methods: Mothers and daycare providers completed four and three questionnaires, respectively, about children's sleep patterns and behaviour. Two hypotheses were tested: (1) children with higher sleep problem scores would have more behavioural problems by parental and daycare provider report; (2) problematic napping behaviours would be associated with night sleep problems.

Results: Mothers' reports of sleep problems were positively associated with children's behavioural problems at home and daycare providers' reports of nap problems were positively correlated with children's behavioural problems at daycare. Daycare providers' reports of children's behavioural problems at daycare were associated with maternal reports of behavioural problems. Older children in the sleep problem group had maternal reports of more behavioural problems. Daycare providers reported that children with sleep problems were less happy at daycare. Children who were happier following naps had less reported night settling difficulties. Children with difficulty settling for naps at daycare had maternal reports of more behavioural problems.

Conclusions: Napping in daycare settings is an important component of toddlers' sleep. Crossover effects between children's sleep and behaviour at daycare and home indicate similarities in mothers' and daycare providers' perceptions. Findings suggest parent and daycare provider interactions include discussions about sleep problems and settling at home and in daycares. Parents and daycare providers would benefit from education about relationships between sleep and behavioural problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / prevention & control
  • Child Care / psychology
  • Child Day Care Centers
  • Child, Preschool
  • Education / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents / psychology
  • Reference Values
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / prevention & control
  • Young Adult