Sleep Loss May Contribute to Bullying Behavior

Bullies get less sleep than the people they bully, according to a new study conducted by University of Michigan researchers. Sleep problems are a common experience among children who are being bullied, but researchers were surprised to discover that the bullies themselves had trouble sleeping. While further research will be required to definitively determine whether bullying behavior causes sleep loss or lack of sleep leads to bullying behavior (researchers favored the latter), it seems clear that there is a definite link between a child’s behavior and the amount of sleep he gets.

A survey of parents and teachers of school-age children revealed a strong link between problematic behavior and sleep problems. Children who scored high on tests for sleep-related breathing disorders were most likely to be bullies or disciplinary problems at school. In the study of 341 children, 25% of the children who exhibited negative behavior also snored, a sign of possible sleep apnea or sleep-related breathing issues.

In releasing their findings, University of Michigan researchers emphasized the likelihood of a direct link between children’s aggressive behavior at school and unrecognized daytime tiredness due to a lack of nighttime sleep. Millions of American school children are the subject of verbal and physical bullying which often has a traumatic effect on the victims. Researchers said their findings point to the possibility that bullying behavior might be reduced if more children received a good night’s sleep.

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