Family, Child, Adolescent Health (Includes Maternal & Child Health)
(School of Nursing (UMB) Doctoral Student)
Objective: Co-sleeping is controversial in infancy given its increased risk of SIDS. The risks of co-sleeping (i.e. bed/room sharing) in toddlerhood need to be further explored, particularly for mothers of toddlers with sleep problems. Toddlers with sleep problems often have multiple nighttime awakenings, which may disrupt parental sleep. Therefore, our objectives were to (1) explore the relationship between toddler sleep problems and maternal sleep duration, and (2) see whether this relationship varied based on co-sleeping. Approach: This study utilized baseline data from low-income mothers of toddlers (age 12-32 months) participating in a parenting intervention. Mothers provided demographic information and questionnaires on their toddler’s sleep (Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire, BISQ) and their own sleep (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, PSQI). A moderation analysis was conducted to examine how toddler sleep problems relate to maternal sleep duration and whether it varies for mothers who report co-sleeping with their toddler. SPSS macro PROCESS was used controlling for poverty, maternal age and marital status. Findings: Sample included 282 mothers, 68% African American, 70% lived below poverty, 15.5% reported toddler sleep problems and 61% co-slept with their toddler. Co-sleeping was not related to maternal sleep duration (B = 0.34, SE = 0.22, p = .12). In the context of toddler sleep problems, co-sleeping was related to shortened maternal sleep duration (B = -0.87, SE = 0.31, p <.01). Additionally, toddler sleep problems were not related to sleep duration for mothers who did not co-sleep with their toddlers (B = 0.27, SE = 0.48, p =.57). Conclusions: Findings indicate that co-sleeping is associated with shorter maternal sleep when toddlers are reported to have sleep problems. Clinicians should consider toddler sleep problems when discussing co-sleeping with families. Further investigations should examine strategies to help families deal with sleep problems. Public Health Significance: Screening for both toddler sleep problems and co-sleeping needs to occur, especially among low-income populations who are at an increased risk of co-sleeping due to lack of space. Mothers who experience decreased sleep duration are likely to suffer negative physical and mental health consequences, which could ultimately negatively affect their parenting and interactions with their children.
Importance to public health: