In a recent study published in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, researchers explore the correlation between sleep problems, low mood, and the development of behavioural disorders and hyperactivity in children. It was determined that sleep problems were greatly associated with low moods, and low moods were greatly correlated to problems of conduct, and hyperactivity.


Understanding the development of psychopathologies requires an examination of childhood mental health. In previous studies, it has been shown that there is an association between depressive symptoms in childhood and the development of psychiatric disorders in adolescence and adulthood. Problems in childhood emotional health are prevalent, and exploring the factors that influence them is important to further our understanding in this field.

One area of interest has been sleep problems. In adults, there is a correlation between sleep problems and depressive symptoms, as well as depression. Researchers of a recent study explored this association between sleep and mood in children, with specific emphasis on the development conduct problems and hyperactivity.

For this study, researchers sent questionnaires to parents of Finnish children aged 4-12 years. The parents completed questionnaires that included questions about their child’s emotional and conduct problems, hyperactivity, and peer problems. Information about the families was also collected through questions pertaining to the parents’ jobs, and their level of education.

It was determined that sleeping problems were greatly associated with low moods in the children included in this study. Sleep was more strongly correlated to low moods than family structure and child illness. In addition, it was found that low moods were strongly connected to problems relating to conduct and hyperactivity. Of the children with emotional problems, those with low moods were at a greater risk for developing conduct problems and hyperactivity.

The results of this study indicate that there is a correlation between sleep problems and low mood, and low mood and behavioural problems. Therefore, the researchers suggest that when health care providers are presented with a child showing low mood and/or behavioural problems, assessing any sleep problems they may have may allow for a better understanding of the psychological problems observed.


Written By: Nicole Pinto, HBSc

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