A review of sleep disturbance in children and adolescents with anxiety

Wilson J. Brown, Allison K. Wilkerson, Stephen J. Boyd, Daniel Dewey, Franklin Mesa, Brian E. Bunnell

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75 Scopus citations


The present review examines the relations between sleep disturbance and anxiety in children and adolescents. The review begins with a detailed discussion of normative developmental trends in sleep, and the relation between sleep quality and emotion dysregulation in children. The extant literature on sleep disturbance in clinically anxious children with a focus on subjective versus objective measures of sleep is then summarized in detail. Finally, a review of the reciprocal relationship between sleep and emotion regulation is provided. The available research suggests that sleep disturbance is quite prevalent in children with anxiety disorders, although the directionality of the association between sleep disturbance and anxiety in children remains unclear. Despite this limitation, a reciprocal relationship between sleep quality and anxiety appears to be well established. Research using objective measures of sleep quality (e.g. polysomnography, sleep actigraphy, sleep bruxism) is warranted to better understand this relation. Further, complicating factors such as the environment in which sleep quality is measured, the developmental stage of participants, varying severity of anxiety and the timeframe during which assessment takes place should all be considered when examining sleep disturbance in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12635
JournalJournal of Sleep Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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