Sleep duration in preschool age and later behavioral and cognitive outcomes: an individual participant data meta-analysis in five European cohorts

Kathrin Guerlich, Demetris Avraam, Tim Cadman, Lucinda Calas, Marie Aline Charles, Ahmed Elhakeem, Silvia Fernández-Barrés, Mònica Guxens, Barbara Heude, Jesús Ibarluzea, Hazel Inskip, Jordi Julvez, Deborah A. Lawlor, Mario Murcia, Theodosia Salika, Jordi Sunyer, Muriel Tafflet, Berthold Koletzko, Veit Grote*, Sabine Plancoulaine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Short sleep duration has been linked to adverse behavioral and cognitive outcomes in schoolchildren, but few studies examined this relation in preschoolers. We aimed to investigate the association between parent-reported sleep duration at 3.5 years and behavioral and cognitive outcomes at 5 years in European children. We used harmonized data from five cohorts of the European Union Child Cohort Network: ALSPAC, SWS (UK); EDEN, ELFE (France); INMA (Spain). Associations were estimated through DataSHIELD using adjusted generalized linear regression models fitted separately for each cohort and pooled with random-effects meta-analysis. Behavior was measured with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Language and non-verbal intelligence were assessed by the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence or the McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities. Behavioral and cognitive analyses included 11,920 and 2981 children, respectively (34.0%/13.4% of the original sample). In meta-analysis, longer mean sleep duration per day at 3.5 years was associated with lower mean internalizing and externalizing behavior percentile scores at 5 years (adjusted mean difference: − 1.27, 95% CI [− 2.22, − 0.32] / − 2.39, 95% CI [− 3.04, − 1.75]). Sleep duration and language or non-verbal intelligence showed trends of inverse associations, however, with imprecise estimates (adjusted mean difference: − 0.28, 95% CI [− 0.83, 0.27] / − 0.42, 95% CI [− 0.99, 0.15]). This individual participant data meta-analysis suggests that longer sleep duration in preschool age may be important for children’s later behavior and highlight the need for larger samples for robust analyses of cognitive outcomes. Findings could be influenced by confounding or reverse causality and require replication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-177
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number1
Early online date7 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL. This research (LifeCycle Project ID: ECCNLC201914) was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement N: 733206, LifeCycle project. Kathrin Guerlich was granted a LifeCycle Fellowship (Grant Agreement N: 733206, LifeCycle project). Berthold Koletzko is the Else Kröner Seniorprofessor of Paediatrics at LMU – University of Munich, financially supported by Else Kröner-Fresenius-Foundation, LMU Medical Faculty and LMU University Hospital. Deborah A Lawlor and Ahmed Elhakeem work in a Unit that receives support from the University of Bristol and UK Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00011/6). Deborah A Lawlor is a British Heart Foundation Chair (CH/F/20/90003) and a National Institute of Health Research Senior Investigator (NF-0616–10102). Mònica Guxens is funded by a Miguel Servet II fellowship (CPII18/00018) awarded by the Spanish Institute of Health Carlos III. Jordi Julvez holds Miguel Servet-II contract (CPII19/00015) awarded by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (Co-funded by European Social Fund "Investing in your future"). Tim Cadman was funded a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship. Funding details for each cohort are provided in Online Resource 1. No funder had any influence on the study design, data collection, statistical analyses or interpretation of findings. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of any funders.

Publisher Copyright: © 2023, The Author(s).


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