Wolke (2014): Bullying and Parasomnias: A Longitudinal Cohort Study

PDF: Wolke_P_134_1-9_2014_NM-bullying-parasomn

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Environmental factors such as serious

trauma or abuse and related stress can lead to nightmares or

night terrors. Being bullied can be very distressing for children,

and victims display long-term social, psychological, and health

consequences. Unknown is whether being bullied by peers may

increase the risk for experiencing parasomnias such as nightmares,

night terrors, or sleepwalking.

METHODS: A total of 6796 children of the Avon Longitudinal Study of

Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort were interviewed at elementary

school age (8 and 10 years) about bullying experiences with

a previously validated bullying interview and at secondary school age

(12.9 years) about parasomnias such as nightmares, night terrors and

sleepwalking by trained postgraduate psychologists.

RESULTS: Even after adjusting for pre-existing factors related to

bullying and parasomnias, being bullied predicted having nightmares

(8 years odds ratio [OR], 1.23; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05–1.44;

10 years OR, 1.62; 95% CI, 1.35–1.94) or night terrors (8 years OR, 1.39;

95% CI, 1.10–1.75; 10 years OR, 1.53; 95% CI, 1.18–1.98) at age 12 to 13

years. Especially being a chronic victim was associated with both

nightmares (OR, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.46–2.27) and night terrors (OR, 2.01;

95% CI, 1.48–2.74). Being a bully/victim also increased the risk for any

parasomnia at ages 8 or 10 years (8 years OR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.08–1.88;

10 years OR, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.30–2.36). In contrast, bullies had no

increased risk for any parasomnias.

CONCLUSIONS: Being bullied increases the risk for having parasomnias.

Hence, parents, teachers, school counselors, and clinicians may consider

asking about bullying experiences if a child is having parasomnias.

Pediatrics 2014;134:1–9

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About Tore Nielsen

Researcher at University of Montreal and Director of Dream & Nightmare Laboratory
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