Sleep disorders in lebanese children: prevalence, relation with dietary habits, and impact on children’s behaviors

Maya El Habbas, Mariam Rajab, Fouad Ziad and Bassem Abou Merhi

Introduction: Sleep is a vital physiological function for the maintenance of health and quality of life. Physicians and psychologists estimate that as many as 30% of children may have a sleep disorder at some point during childhood. Poor diet can negatively impacts sleep patterns in children. Sleep disorders may lead to daytime moodiness, irritability, lack of focus in class, sleepiness in school, inability to get up in time for school and significant behavioral and learning problems.

Objectives: 1.Tostudy the prevalence of sleep disorder in Lebanese Children. 2. To determine the associations between quality of sleep and harmful diet in Lebanese children. 3. To evaluate the impact of sleep disorders on quality of life in Lebanese children.

Material and Methods: This study was conducted at Makassed schools with children aged 3-8years. This was a two-step study, the first step was a questionnaire distributed to school children to be answered by their parents. This questionnaire included questions concerning child diet, child quality of sleep and child behavior. In this first step of the study, these questionnaires were analyzed and only the individuals with severe sleep disorders were included in the second part of the study. The second step was to organize an individual meeting with every child, who met the inclusion criteria, and the child underwent complete physical exam.

Results: The prevalence of unhealthy dietary habits in Lebanese children is 70.7% with a mean age of 6.03 years and 52.1% of these children were males. The prevalence of severe sleep disorders was found to be 5.6%. The mean age is 6.3 years with gradual increase from 14.3% between 3 and 5 years of age to 49.2% between 6 and 8 years of age. A significant relation was found between severe sleep disorders and unhealthy dietary habits. Concerning sleep disorders and behavior disorders, only 1.3% of children with no sleep disorders had behavior disorders while 22.2% of children with severe sleep disorders had behavior problems. The result is highly significant (P-Value< 0.0001).

Discussion: Sleep behaviors are among the most common concerns that parents of young children bring to their physicians. A child who goes to bed unwillingly or wakes frequently during the night can be highly disruptive to a family. The prevalence of sleep disorders in Lebanon is 67.2 %, much higher than other studies. Our study showed no gender difference in children with severe sleep disorders. Diet has a significant impact on the sleep habits of school children as proved by our study. Our study indicates the impact of sleep disorders on children’s quality of life.

Conclusion: To our knowledge, this is the first study in Lebanon discussing sleep disorders and its relation with nutrition and its impact on children behavior. We demonstrated that there is a significant relationship between unhealthy diet and sleep disorders. Inadequate sleep in children has been shown to be associated with poor academic performance, behavioral problems, poor mental and physical health.

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