Researchers warn that children who have sleeping difficulties may be more likely to develop mental health disorders, as reported by the Daily Mail.

They say that disturbed sleep in children could be a sign of problems including anxiety, depression or schizophrenia, and disorders such as autism.

Researchers from Goldsmiths, University of London, and Tel Aviv University have reviewed several scientific studies and believe that sleep may be a key to understanding of how people develop mental illnesses.

Insomnia, disturbed sleep and nightmares are associated with a greater likelihood of developing mental health problems in later childhood or adulthood.

Dr Alice Gregory of Goldsmiths said: ‘Disorders typically start early in life so it’s negligent to ignore the childhood and adolescence period when trying to understand the development of psychopathology.

‘Sleep can be assessed very early in life and has found to constitute an early risk indicator of later problems.

‘Sleep disturbances may serve as a red flag for the development of a host of other disorders.’