Natural history of insomnia symptoms in the transition from childhood to adolescence: population rates, health disparities, and risk factors

Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, Elizaveta Bourchtein, Susan Calhoun, Kristina Puzino, Cynthia K. Snyder, Fan He, Alexandros N. Vgontzas, Duanping Liao, Edward Bixler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVES: To determine the sociodemographic, behavioral, and clinical risk factors associated with the persistence, remission, and incidence of insomnia symptoms in the transition from childhood to adolescence. METHODS: The Penn State Child Cohort is a random, population-based sample of 700 children (5-12 years at baseline), of whom 421 were followed-up as adolescents (12-23 years at follow-up). Subjects underwent polysomnography, clinical history, physical exam, and parent- and self-reported scales at baseline and follow-up. Insomnia symptoms were defined as a parent- or self-report of difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. RESULTS: The 421 subjects with baseline (Mage = 8.8 years) and follow-up (Mage = 17 years) data were 53.9% male and 21.9% racial/ethnic minorities. The persistence of childhood insomnia symptoms (CIS) was 56% (95% CI = 46.5-65.4), with only 30.3% (95% CI = 21.5-39.0) fully remitting. The incidence of adolescent insomnia symptoms was 31.1% (95% CI = 25.9-36.3). Female sex, racial/ethnic minority, and low socioeconomic status as well as psychiatric/behavioral or neurological disorders, obesity, smoking, and evening chronotype were associated with a higher persistence or incidence of insomnia symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: CIS are highly persistent, with full remission occurring in only a third of children in the transition to adolescence. Sex-, racial/ethnic-, and socioeconomic-related disparities in insomnia occur as early as childhood, while different mental/physical health and lifestyle/circadian risk factors play a key role in the chronicity of CIS versus their incidence in adolescence. CIS should not be expected to developmentally remit and should become a focus of integrated pediatric/behavioral health strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSleep
Volume44
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 12 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)

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