Many of us are familiar with bullying, either as a witness, victim, or as the bully. It happens at every age and in many different settings, from school to work to social groups. Bullying occurs as physical, verbal, and social or relational bullying, and has grown to include cyber bullying. What do we know about bullying behavior in children and sleep?

Studies Show a Relationship Between Bullying and Sleep Disorders

Several studies have identified an association between bullying behavior and sleep disorders. Among other things, the studies indicate that children who are more aggressive exhibit sleep disordered breathing more often than other children. This disorder can include symptoms from snoring to sleep apnea.

It is thought by some sleep professionals that lack of sleep is a major indication of behavioral problems because it can reduce the sleeper’s ability to control their emotions and determine the correct way to treat others. In fact, a study of elementary school students with misconduct problems, including bullying and other discipline issues, in Ypsilanti, Michigan, found those students to be twice as likely to suffer from symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing, including increased drowsiness during the day.

Yet another study of 1,422 students aged 10–18, was conducted in France. Comparing results on seven different scales, it found that while victims of bullying suffered from far more sleep disturbances than either neutral groups or bullies, the bullies had shorter and more irregular sleep schedules. They concluded that sleep can affect aggressive behavior in bullies, meaning that improved sleep could help bullies improve their ability to handle emotions and react to social interactions more favorably.

What You Can Do to Help

As a parent, it is difficult to know how to handle bullying, especially if your child is the instigator. If your child is involved in bullying behavior of others, they may be experiencing a sleep disorder. Their disorder could be the result of childhood apnea, medications, or pain and stress. There are several things you can do that might help your child improve their sleep.

Establish and maintain a set bedtime — A predictable routine helps create a trusted environment.

Read to them before sleep — A story before bedtime is a great way to help calm and relax them as they prepare to sleep.

Feed them foods that encourage sleep — Foods that contain vitamin B6, tryptophan, and magnesium may help encourage relaxation and sleepiness.

Establish good sleep hygiene — A darkened bedroom, comfortable temperature, and cutting back on screen time are bedtime habits that encourage sleep.

Encourage activities that involve exercise — Exercise contributes to better mental health and has a positive effect on their sleep routine.

When to Schedule an Evaluation With Us

If your child snores, has behavior problems, or finds it difficult to concentrate, they could be suffering from OSA. Call today to schedule an appointment for an accurate diagnosis. We serve Granger, Middlebury, Warsaw, and Plymouth, Indiana, and the surrounding area.