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Falling asleep: the determinants of sleep latency
  1. G M Nixon1,
  2. J M D Thompson2,
  3. D Y Han2,
  4. D M O Becroft2,
  5. P M Clark2,
  6. E Robinson3,
  7. K E Waldie4,
  8. C J Wild5,
  9. P N Black6,
  10. E A Mitchell2
  1. 1
    Ritchie Centre for Baby Health Research, Monash Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  2. 2
    Department of Paediatrics, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  3. 3
    Section of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  4. 4
    Department of Psychology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  5. 5
    Department of Statistics, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  6. 6
    Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Professor E A Mitchell, Department of Paediatrics, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand; e.mitchell{at}auckland.ac.nz

Abstract

Background: Difficulty falling asleep (prolonged sleep latency) is a frequently reported problem in school-aged children.

Aims: This study aimed to describe the distribution of sleep latency and factors that influence its duration.

Methods: 871 children of European mothers were recruited at birth. 591 (67.9%) children took part in the follow-up at 7 years of age. Sleep and daytime activity were measured objectively by an actigraph worn for 24 h.

Results: Complete sleep data were available for 519 children (87.8%) with a mean age of 7.3 years (SD 0.2). Median sleep latency was 26 minutes (interquartile range 13–42). Higher mean daytime activity counts were associated with a decrease in sleep latency (−1.2 minutes per 102 movement count per minute, p = 0.05). Time spent in sedentary activity was associated with an increase in sleep latency (3.1 minutes per hour of sedentary activity, p = 0.01).

Conclusions: These findings emphasise the importance of physical activity for children, not only for fitness, cardiovascular health and weight control, but also for promoting good sleep.

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Footnotes

  • Funding The initial study was funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand. The 12-month postal questionnaire was funded by Hawkes Bay Medical Research Foundation. The 3.5-year follow-up study was funded by Child Health Research Foundation, Becroft Foundation and Auckland Medical Research Foundation. The 7-year follow-up study was funded by Child Health Research Foundation. EAM and JMDT are supported by the Child Health Research Foundation. The 7-year follow-up study was conducted in the Children’s Research Centre, which is supported in part by the Starship Foundation and the Auckland District Health Board.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval The study received approval from the Auckland Ethics Committee.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

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