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Jun 09, 2015 12:27 AM EDT

Child Abuse May Lead To Sleep Problems Later In Life


People who were maltreated when they were children have an increased risk of developing sleep problems later in life, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, and Western University found that adults who experienced multiple incidents of childhood maltreatment were more than as likely to have trouble sleeping than their counterparts who were not maltreated during childhood,.

"We found a significant association between childhood maltreatment and difficulty sleeping later in life," said Philip Baiden, lead author of the study. "Initially, we thought that the link would be explained by factors such as chronic conditions, chronic pain, and mental health problems - factors which the extant literature has found to be associated with trouble sleeping - but even after adjusting for 15 potential explanatory factors, we found that each additional type of childhood maltreatment experienced increased the odds of having trouble sleeping later in life by 10 percent."

Past studies have "consistently found that early childhood adversities such as emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and neglect are risk factors for poor physical and mental health later in life, our study suggests that these early childhood adversities are also related to trouble sleeping later in life."

For the study, researchers collected and analyzed data from a representative sample of more than 19,000 adults from Statistics Canada's 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey - Mental Health. About one in seven individuals had trouble sleeping and about one in two individuals experienced at least one childhood adversity (e.g., witnessed domestic violence; slapped in the face, hit or spanked; pushed, grabbed, or shoved; kicked, bitten, punched, choked, or burned; forced or attempted forced sexual activity; unwanted sexual touching, kissing, or fondling) before they turned age 16.

The findings are detailed in the journal Sleep Medicine

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