Persistent Insomnia in Childhood Linked to Mood, Anxiety Disorders in Adulthood, Study Says

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

A study, recently published in the peer-reviewed journal SLEEP, entitled “327 Developmental Trajectories of Insomnia and Risk of Internalizing Disorders in Young Adulthood” demonstrated how insomnia the persistence of childhood to adulthood may be linked to the increased risk for developing mental health conditions in young adults, namely mood and anxiety disorders.

The 15-year longitudinal study analyzed a population-based sample of 700 children with a median age of 9 years old and found that individuals whose insomnia persisted from childhood into adulthood correlated with a 2.8-fold increase of developing an internalized disorder. However, those whose insomnia symptoms had remitted during the study period showed no increased risk.

The researchers had followed up with 421 participants when they were adolescents (mean age of 16 years old) and 492 of them when they were young adults (24 years old). Among the individuals surveyed, 40% of children did not outgrow their insomnia symptoms.

These findings were presented at SLEEP 2021, the 35th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, by the lead investigator Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, Ph.D., an associate professor at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He commented, “These new findings further indicate that early sleep interventions are warranted to prevent future mental health problems, as children whose insomnia symptoms improved over time were not at increased risk of having a mood or anxiety disorder as young adults.”

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