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The relationship of sleep disorders & aggressive behavior in school age children

A recent study out of the University of Michigan found a correlation between sleep and aggressive or bullying behavior in urban school age children. The study included the parents and teachers of 341 children living in areas classified as urban.  The parents and teachers assessed the children’s behavior while researchers studied the children’s sleep patterns and the data was compared to reveal the following:

  • 32% of the children were classified by a parent or teacher as having a conduct problem.
  • 12% were classified as demonstrating bullying behavior
  • 17% received disciplinary action at least twice from teachers for their behavior
  • 23% were noted as snoring more than half the time they sleep. Snoring is an indication of sleep-disordered breathing
  • Higher rate (30% vs. 14%) of sleep-disordered breathing in children classified by a parent or teacher as aggressive or exhibiting bullying behavior.

The most surprising finding was that snoring was not the cause of the aggressive behavior. Rather it was the daytime sleepiness that was causing it. This particular study was not designed to look at the cause of the daytime sleepiness as the result was a surprise even to the researchers. While the cause and effect cannot be directly proven, results of a recent study indicate a correlation between sleep and aggressive or bullying behavior in urban school age children.What can parents do to help their children get high quality sleep?


  • Environmental:  Provide a space conducive to sleep by not having televisions, computers and video games in the room with the child. Providing a night light in their room or the hallway outside their room will help them feel safe. Soft music will help them get and stay asleep just as it helps adults.
  • Behavioral:  Setting a bedtime routine that is followed by all caregivers eliminates stress and provides security and comfort to the child. A warm bath and quiet reading time are as relaxing to kids as they are for adults. Children don’t all have the same sleep pattern or schedule. Understanding one child sleeps 6pm to 6am and another sleeps 8pm – 6am are important observations in establishing a routine unique to each child.
  • Sleep Disorder:  If you have created an environment and routine conducive to sleep for your child and they continue to struggle, it may be time to consult their doctor.


At Valley Sleep Center it is our mission for the entire family to get quality sleep. We hope this information helps educate on the relationship of sleep and behavior. Sweet dreams!

About Valley Sleep Center:

Since 2002, Valley Sleep Center, accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, has provided Arizona with diagnostic sleep disorder testing in a home-like atmosphere, ensuring a comfortable, relaxing experience for patients.  Their Board Certified Sleep Medicine Specialists consist of experienced and knowledgeable physicians who provide expert advice across a multitude of sleep related disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, hypertension, sleepwalking, and pediatric sleep problems.  They accept most insurance plans as well as Medicare.  For more information contact Lauri Leadley at 480-830-3900; http://www.valleysleepcenter.com.

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Scottsdale, AZ

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