Distinct developmental trends in sleep duration during early childhood
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Sleep is important to child development, but there is limited understanding of individual developmental patterns of sleep, their underlying determinants, and how these influence health and well-being. This article explores the presence of various sleep patterns in children and their implications for health-related quality of life. METHODS: Data were collected from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Participants included 2926 young children followed from age 0 to 1 years to age 6 to 7 years. Data on sleep duration were collected every 2 years, and covariates (eg, child sleep problems, maternal education) were assessed at baseline. Growth mixture modeling was used to identify distinct longitudinal patterns of sleep duration and significant covariates. Linear regression examined whether the distinct sleep patterns were significantly associated with health-related quality of life. RESULTS: The results identified 4 distinct sleep duration patterns: typical sleepers (40.6%), initially short sleepers (45.2%), poor sleepers (2.5%), and persistent short sleepers (11.6%). Factors such as child sleep problems, child irritability, maternal employment, household financial hardship, and household size distinguished between the trajectories. The results demonstrated that the trajectories had different implications for health-related quality of life. For instance, persistent short sleepers had poorer physical, emotional, and social health than typical sleepers. CONCLUSIONS: The results provide a novel insight into the nature of child sleep and the implications of differing sleep patterns for health-related quality of life. The findings could inform the development of effective interventions to promote healthful sleep patterns in children.