The Impact of Children’s Sleep Problems on the Family and Behavioural Processes Related to their Development and Maintenance

Melinda Polimeni, Amanda Richdale, Andrew Francis

Abstract


The effects of sleep disturbance and sleep deprivation in adults have been well documented and include diminished performance on cognitive tasks such as reaction time, attention, concentration, and memory. The effects of disturbed sleep in children are not as well documented, and the impact that sleep problems may have on the developing brain is largely unknown. However, research has shown that in addition to the sleep disturbance, sleep problems in children can have a significant impact on daytime functioning. This impact can be further exacerbated where the child has an existing developmental disability. Sleep problems also impact upon the family, and parents who have a child with a sleep problem have higher levels of stress and marital dissatisfaction. This paper reviews the evidence regarding the effect of sleep problems on daytime functioning in children. The impact that such disturbances can have on parents and the family as a whole is also discussed, as well as the behavioural processes occurring within the family that contribute to the development and maintenance of sleep problems in children.

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Keywords

sleep problems; children; parents; behavioural factors; daytime functioning



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ISSN 1832-7931
Swinburne University of Technology