A study published in the British Journal of Educational Psychology looks at whether problems with sleep and self-regulation might be used to predict how children settle in at school.
The study involved 2,880 children from Growing Up in Australia: The
Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Child sleep problems and
emotional self-regulation were assessed via reports from mothers at
three time points between birth and age five. Child attentional
regulation was assessed by the mothers at two time points, and school
adjustment was measured by teacher reports of classroom self-regulation
and social, emotional, and behavioural adjustment at school, when the
children were aged 6-7 years.
Three profiles were found. A normative profile (69% of children) had
consistently average or higher emotional and attentional regulation
scores and sleep problems that steadily reduced from birth to five. The
remaining 31% of children were members of two non-normative profiles,
both characterised by escalating sleep problems across early childhood
and below mean self-regulation. Children in the non-normative group were
associated with higher teacher-reported hyperactivity and emotional
problems, and poorer classroom self-regulation and prosocial skills.
The researchers conclude that early childhood profiles of
self-regulation that include sleep problems offer a way to identify
children at risk of poor school adjustment. Children with escalating
early childhood sleep problems could be an important group for
interventions to support transition into school. Source: Early Childhood Profiles Of Sleep Problems And Self-Regulation Predict Later School Adjustment (2016), British Journal of Educational Psychology.