Behavioural and emotional profiles of children and adolescents with disorders of arousal

Anna Castelnovo, Katherine Turner, Alessandro Rossi, Andrea Galbiati, Alessandra Gagliardi, Paola Proserpio, Lino Nobili, Michele Terzaghi, Raffaele Manni, Luigi Ferini Strambi, Mauro Manconi, Silvia Miano, Elena Zambrelli, Maria Paola Canevini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Disorders of arousals are common sleep disorders characterized by complex motor behaviours that arise episodically out of slow-wave sleep. Psychological distress has long been associated with disorders of arousal, but this link remains controversial, especially in children and adolescents. The aim of this multi-centre study was to characterize behavioural and emotional problems in a sample of children/adolescents with disorders of arousal, and to explore their relationship with the severity of nocturnal episodes. The parents of 41 children/adolescents with a diagnosis of disorders of arousal (11.5 ± 3.3 years old, 61% males) and of a group of 41 age- and gender-matched control participants filled in the Child Behavior Checklist, along with the Sleep Disturbance Scale for Children and the Paris Arousal Disorders Severity Scale. Multilevel t-tests revealed significantly higher total scores and sub-scores of the Child Behavior Checklist for the patient group compared with the control group. Thirty-four percent of the patients obtained pathological total scores, and 12% of them borderline scores. The severity of emotional/behavioural problems in the patient group was positively correlated with the severity of the nocturnal episodes. Interestingly, children/adolescents with disorders of arousal also obtained higher excessive daytime sleepiness and insomnia symptoms sub-scores at the Sleep Disturbance Scale for Children. These results confirmed the hypothesis that behavioural/emotional problems are surprisingly common in children/adolescents with disorders of arousal. Further studies are warranted to investigate the causal relationship between pathological manifestations, subtler sleep abnormalities, and diurnal emotional/behavioural problems in children/adolescents with disorders of arousal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e13188
JournalJournal of Sleep Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 10 2021


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