Sleep deprivation has become a common phenomenon of the Western world and is associated with a variety of medical problems in children. This retrospective longitudinal analysis of a community-based birth cohort was undertaken to determine whether frequent nocturnal awakening during early life was associated with the development of childhood asthma.2,398 children born to mothers recruited from the antenatal clinics of a single hospital in Perth, Australia during 1989–1991 were followed up at years 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 10 and 14. Parent-completed questionnaires were analysed. The odds ratio for asthma at age 6 and 14 yrs in children with frequent nocturnal awakening during the first 3 yrs after birth was determined from multiple logistic regression.Following adjustment for asthma risk factors, co-sleeping and family stress, persistent nocturnal awakening was associated with nonatopic asthma at age 6 and 14 yrs (at age 14 yrs: OR 2.18, 95% CI 1.15–4.13) but not with atopic asthma.We found an increased risk of nonatopic asthma in children following frequent nocturnal awakening during the first 3 yrs of life. These hypothesis-generating data suggest the need for further systematic study of the effects of disordered sleep in early life on the development of asthma.