What sets bullies apart from well-behaved kids? Sleep, according to new research that says bullies and disruptive kids are twice as likely to show signs of sleep problems compared to their peers.
The researchers in the study found that the kids snoring or experiencing sleepiness in class were also the kids identified as school bullies. Impaired sleep affects the brain, says lead author of the study Louise O'Brien, and if that's disrupted, "emotional regulation and decision-making capabilities are impaired." But, she cautions that the association between sleep problems and poor behavior doesn’t prove that bullying is caused by sleep problems.
Plus: When Your Kid's the Bully
Our current approach to bully-prevention focuses on protecting victims and disciplining (or taking legal action against) bullies. This study suggests that we may be able to curb aggressive behavior like bullying by addressing health problems that may contribute to it.
Plus: Is Bullying Always a Bad Thing?
I'm skeptical. While the link between aggression and sleep deprivation is interesting, I don't think we should be handing out excuses for kids being mean to each other. And I'm not convinced that getting more sleep would solve the problem. Some kids are just mean and don't need a nap, they need to get their butt kicked a little bit—metaphorically speaking, of course.