WEDNESDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- Witnessing or being the
victim of violence can cause long-term disruption to a child's
sleep, according to a new study, and the more severe the violence,
the greater the impact on sleep.
Researchers assessed the sleep of 46 children aged 8 to 16 in
Cleveland who were enrolled in a social-service program for
children exposed to violence. Sleep data was collected for seven
days and follow-up with the children was conducted three months
Although sleep problems such as insomnia and nightmares have
long been linked with exposure to violence, this study found that
specific aspects of violence have different effects on children's
For example, children who are victims of violence tend to sleep
less and more poorly than those who saw a violent act but were not
victimized. Children who witness a murder have more inconsistent
sleep as time passes after the event.
The study was to be presented Wednesday at the annual meeting of
the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Boston. Because this
study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions
should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed
"Violence permeates our society, and this work is showing that
experiencing even a single violent event as a victim or as a
witness may influence sleep behavior in different ways, which, in
turn, may negatively affect a child's health and functioning,"
principal investigator James Spilsbury, of Case Western Reserve
University in Cleveland, said in an American Academy of Sleep
Medicine news release.
Children who don't get enough sleep are at increased risk for
development and behavior problems. Research has also linked lack of
sleep to health issues such as high blood pressure, obesity,
depression, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
The Nemours Foundation has more about
children and sleep.
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