Parents affected by child's sleep disturbances
Parents of children, who have sleep problems, also tend to have sleep-deprived nights.
Parents of children with sleep problems, tend to have sleep-deprived nights.
Researchers from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center and Brown Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island, found that when children had multiple sleep problems, their parents were more likely to have daytime drowsiness. Mothers were generally more affected than fathers, possibly because they were the ones who typically responded to their children's problems in the middle of the night.
Sleep disruptions and daytime sleepiness have negative effects on people's mood, behaviour and health. For parents, sleep deprivation may cause them to have less patience with their child or spouse, and be less productive at work and at home.
The study included 107 families of children aged 2 to 12 years, who were evaluated at a sleep disorders clinic. The children's sleep problems ranged from the breathing disorder sleep apnoea, night terrors, sleepwalking to behavioural issues like refusing to go to bed. When parents were surveyed about their own sleep habits and daytime alertness, it turned out that those whose children had more than one sleep problem tended to suffer more daytime sleepiness than other parents. This was particularly true of mothers, even though they reported sleeping roughly the same number of hours that fathers did.
It's possible that mothers did have more sleep interruptions than fathers, even though they logged roughly the same number of hours in bed. While fathers in general may be taking on more child-rearing responsibilities, mothers are probably still the ones who more often get out of bed to check on their child.
Signs of a childhood sleep disorder include excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty falling asleep, frequent nighttime waking or snoring. It's also important to recognise that some children who demonstrate daytime behaviour problems or mood disturbances may suffer from an underlying sleep disorder. Parents who suspect their child may have a sleep disorder shouldn't hesitate to seek help, as there are effective behavioural therapies and medications available.
Journal of Family Psychology,
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