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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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.