Separation anxiety in children suffering from sleep terrors or sleepwalking

Authors: Garmroudinezhad Rostami, Elham
Advisor: Boivin, Michel
Other Title(s): Anxiété de séparation chez les enfants souffrant de terreurs du sommeil ou de somnambulisme
Abstract: The relationship between developmental psychopathology and sleep is complex (Gregory & Sadeh, 2016). More research is needed, including longitudinal population-based studies in children. However, Generalized anxiety disorder and separation anxiety disorder all list sleep problems among their core symptoms in clinical children population (Kupfer, 2015; Shanahan et al., 2014), but results are mixed and sleep disturbances may not be associated with anxiety in non-clinical population of children. Little is known the relationship between separation anxiety and night terrors and sleepwalking among children in a non-clinical population. So, in this dissertation, I explore the links between separation anxiety and night terrors on one hand, and sleepwalking on the other hand, in a non-clinical early childhood sample. This research is part of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (QLSCD, Canada), initiated by the Quebec Institute of Statistics. In the initial sample, 2223 families were included when children were approximately 5 months. Separation anxiety and General anxiety were measured from the ages of yearly 1.5 to 6 years through the Interviewer Completed Computerized Questionnaire, a face-to-face structured interview with the mother (N= 2045; 2044). Night terrors were assessed from 1.5 to 6 years of age, and sleepwalking from 2.5 years to 6 years, through a self-administered questionnaire completed by the mother (N= 1840; 1849). A mean score across measurement times was calculated for separation anxiety and general anxiety, and a sum for night terrors and sleepwalking. I tested the associations with three-step hierarchical regression models: (1) inclusion of separation anxiety and confounding factors as predictors, (2) inclusion of general anxiety, and (3) inclusion of an interaction term gender*separation anxiety. One of the major findings of this study is that separation anxiety predicts both night terrors and sleepwalking in early childhood, even after controlling for general anxiety. The latter showed no associations with any of the two parasomnias. Finally, these associations were not different for boys and girls. Our findings have shown that separation anxiety may play a role in night terrors and sleepwalking etiology. This study represents an important step for a better understanding of the association between separation anxiety symptoms and sleep in children in the general (non-clinical) population.
Document Type: Mémoire de maîtrise
Issue Date: 2019
Open Access Date: 18 April 2019
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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