Background: Sleep duration and sleep schedule variability have been related to negative health and well-being outcomes in children, but little is known about Australian Indigenous children.
Methods: Data for children aged 7-9 years came from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children and the National Assessment Program–Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). Latent class analysis determined sleep classes taking into account sleep duration, bedtimes, waketimes, and variability in bedtimes from weekdays to weekends. Regression models tested whether the sleep classes were cross-sectionally associated with grade 3 NAPLAN scores. Latent change score modeling then examined whether the sleep classes predicted changes in NAPLAN performance from grades 3 to 5.
Results: Five sleep schedule classes were identified: normative sleep, early risers, long sleep, variable sleep, and short sleep. Overall, long sleepers performed best, with those with reduced sleep (short sleepers and early risers) performing the worse on grammar, numeracy, and writing performance. Latent change score results also showed that long sleepers performed best in spelling and writing and short sleepers and typical sleepers performed the worst over time.
Conclusions: In this sample of Australian Indigenous children, short sleep was associated with poorer school performance compared with long sleep, with this performance worsening over time for some performance indicators. Other sleep schedules (eg, early wake times and variable sleep) also had some relationships with school performance. As sleep scheduling is modifiable, this offers opportunity for improvement in sleep and thus performance outcomes for these and potentially all children.