Objective: Italy faced one of the first large clusters of COVID-19 infections worldwide. Home confinement and social distancing could have negatively impacted sleep habits and prevalence of sleep disorders in children, which may be also linked with altered emotional processes. The present study focused on clinical aspects related
to sleep, insomnia and emotions in Italian children aged 0-to-12 years during home confinement due to COVID-19 outbreak.
Method: An online survey was systematically distributed in all Italian territories by contacting regional offices of the Italian Ministry of Instruction, University and Research (MIUR) and schools with available contact. All respondents had to be parents of at least one child aged 0 to 12 years old. Information on sociodemographic variables,
sleep habits, sleep health behaviors, sleep disorders and mood were collected.
Results: Parents of 2361 children (mean age: 8.1 ± 2.62 years; 1148 females; 1213 males) answered the survey. 1.2% of children was between 0 and 2 years old; 15.3% within 3 to 5 years and 83.3% within 6 and 12 years. In all group ages, late bedtime was observed (most of them after 9 p.m.). 59.4% of all children presented at least one
clinical diagnostic criterion for childhood insomnia. Logistic regression model showed that presence of at least one criterion for childhood insomnia was associated to younger
age, negative mood, current parental insomnia, being the only child, presence of any other sleep disorder, and sleep hygiene behaviors.
Conclusions: Data indicate an alarming increase of prevalence of insomnia related problems in Italian children during home confinement with respect to previous data.
This was found to be associated with poor sleep hygiene and negative mood. Clinical programs targeting insomnia, sleep health behaviors and emotional processes should be implemented in pediatric primary care in order to prevent the development of sleep problems in a post-pandemic situation.
- doi:doi.org/10.36131/ cnfioritieditore20210102