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Victims of Bullying are more likely to have Night Terrors and Nightmares

Update Date: Sep 11, 2014 10:51 AM EDT

Bullying can have long-lasting effects on the victims. In a new study, researchers set out to examine the adverse effects that bullying might have on children's mental health when they are asleep. The team found that children who were bully victims were more likely to suffer from night terrors, nightmares or sleepwalking.

For this study, the researchers headed by Professor Dieter Wolke and Dr. Suzet Tanya Lereya from the University of Warwick examined data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). This study interviewed a cohort of children when they were eight to 10 years old and again when they turned 12 to 13 years old. The data included bullying instances and any sleep-related problems.

"We found children who were bullied at age 8 or 10 years were more likely to have nightmares, night terrors, or sleepwalking at age 12 years. Moreover, those who were bullied and bullied others (bully/victims) were most likely to have any parasomnia," Wolke stated according to Medical Xpress.

The researchers reported that factors such as being female, having sleeping problems already as well as emotional or behavioral problems all increased the risk of suffering from sleep-related problems.

"Nightmares may occur when anxiety exceeds a threshold level and several studies have suggested that trait anxiety may be related to the frequency of parasomnias. However, even after controlling for pre-existing anxiety problems our results showed that being bullied may increase the risk for parasomnias," Dr. Lereya, from the Department of Psychology, explained.

The researchers recommend parents to keep an eye out on any sleeping problems that their children might be experiencing. Sleep is vital for overall health and if these problems are disrupting good sleep, parents should seek out medical treatment. Furthermore, the fact that children might have sleeping problems could indicate bullying. By being aware of the relationship between sleeping problems and bullying, parents might be more equipped to identify signs of bullying.

The study, "Bullying and Parasomnias: A Longitudinal Cohort Study," was published in the journal, Pediatrics.

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