Are Bullies Lacking Good Quality Sleep?

New research concludes that sleep disorders may contribute to whether or not a child has aggressive behavior. A recent study conducted at the University of Michigan led researchers to discover that kids that are prone to having problems behaviorally such as showing aggression and bullying are actually two times as likely to have poor sleep at night or some sleep disorder that causes them to be sleepy during the day.

For some parents, this may provide a new hope for your child’s behavior if poor sleep does indeed affect a child’s behavior. The study that was conducted involved elementary school children that have had conduct issues in Ypsilanti, Michigan. This study was published within the Sleep Medicine Journal.

Within the study, daytime tiredness due to chaos within the household, disordered breathing, internet use, frequent phone calls, or any other cause of having sleep interrupted was found to be directly linked to the child having behavioral issues.

Assistant professor in the University of Michigan’s Sleep Disorders Center, Louise O’ Brien stated that this study was able to increase the possibility that addressing sleep issues with children may be able to decrease aggressive behaviors such as bullying which is becoming a major issue in many schools across the country.

The results of this study basically concluded that more research needs to be done in order to pinpoint conclusive information. If however sleepiness during the day is really contributing strongly to bullying in school or other displays of aggressive behavior, the problem could potentially be eliminated if not at least drastically decreased.

According to O’Brien, this correlation between bullying and sleep deprivation may be a very good possibility since the pre-frontal cortex is responsible for social behaviors and controlling emotions along with being sensitive to a lack of sleep.

More studies about this issue are definitely warranted since there is a very high prevalence of bullying and aggression in recent time within schools and the consequences for this behavior in the long run for both the bully and the victim are quite damaging.

O’Brien stated that parents may want to follow some suggestions to help their child get better quality, uninterrupted sleep at night such as eliminating electronics from the child’s room at bedtime to ensure that sleeping remains the priority.

According to Professionals, pre-school aged children should really be getting up to 13 hours of sleep each night, while school aged kids need up to 11 hours nightly.

Overall, this study introduced a possible cause of bullying and aggression in children. Until further research is conducted, it might be wise for parents to take the initiative and ensure better sleep quality for their children at night in order to possibly curb behavior that could lead to bullying. Good quality sleep should be part of a healthy lifestyle for your children.


Sleep Medicine: doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2010.11.012 Aggressive Behavior, bullying, snoring, and sleepiness in schoolchildren. Louise M. O’Brien et al.

Blanchard, K. 2011. Poor sleep linked to kids who bully.