Problems sleeping are very common among young children, but new Western University research is helping understand how it could play a role in overall well-being and healthy childhood development.

London parents will tell you babies don’t always, well ‘Sleep like a baby.’ And occasional sleep problems are a normal part of childhood, with the reasons are usually easily explained. 

But what happens when occasional sleep problems become chronic?

It's estimated from 15 to 30 per cent of two- to five-year-old children experience regular difficulties falling asleep or sleeping through the night.

And studies have shown a relationship between sleep problems and child psychosocial problems like attention, hyperactivity, oppositional and aggressive behaviour, mood problems and anxiety.

A wrist-watch like device called an actigraph, which keeps track of movement, is helping researcher Kathryn Turnbull track the wake-sleep cycle in young children.

Then further tests will look at cognitive skills, the Western University PhD candidate says.

“The study is in children who are three to five and we're going to be looking at attention and self-control and how that relates to their sleep."

Interest has grown significantly in kids and sleep, according to Dr. Graham Reid, a Western researcher who's also part of the study.

“We've done other work that's shown that the more sleep problems children have, the more behaviour and emotional problems. As well, other research has shown attention problems."

Ultimately, it's hoped the research will also shed light on what constitutes mild versus more significant sleep problems.

Interested parents who want to find out more about the study can contact: