28 Nov Mother’s insomnia is linked to children’s EEG sleep data.
Sleep is important for the developing mind and body of children and is associated with the sleep patterns of parents and the family dynamics. This study aimed to test if parental insomnia symptoms were related to children’s sleep as recorded by electroencephalography (EEG). Secondary investigation was to test if there was an association between the parent’s insomnia symptoms, and their own perception of the child’s sleep.
191 public school children aged 7-12 years living in Switzerland were included. 96 were born very preterm. Children completed in-home sleep EEG recording and parents completed both the ‘Children’s sleep habits questionnaire’ to record their perception of their child’s sleep, and the ‘insomnia severity index’ to report their own symptoms.
Mother’s insomnia symptoms were related to the child having less total sleep time, more stage 2 sleep and less slow wave sleep. Later sleep onset and later awakening times were also noted. Fathers insomnia symptoms were not related to the child’s EEG recorded sleep characteristics.
Both mothers and fathers insomnia symptoms were also related to their reports of children’s bedtime resistance, sleep duration, sleep anxiety, night waking’s and daytime sleepiness. However, these reports were not confirmed by the recorded EEG.
Mothers insomnia was associated with the fathers reports of child’s bedtime resistance, sleep anxiety and sleep disordered breathing.
The authors suggest the link between mothers and not fathers insomnia symptoms and the children’s sleep architecture is that mothers in Switzerland spend more time with their children than fathers. It may be a two way relationship in that a poor sleeping child may cause anxiety in mothers triggering insomnia symptoms, and also that a mother who cannot sleep may disrupt the child’s sleeping pattern due to her own habits.
Possible explanations for the association of maternal insomnia with children’s bedtime resistance and sleep anxiety include interactions between children’s and parental sleep-related behaviour. Children’s sleep difficulties and subsequent behaviour could prevent parents from having a good night’s sleep or vice versa. Further, it is possible that some of the families’ homes provided generally unfavourable sleep environments, such as noise. Additionally, shared genetic risk could account for vulnerabilities to sleep difficulties in parents and children.
Despite the associations of insomnia symptoms and the child’s sleep related behaviour problems; these were not explained by the objective sleep EEG data. This is possibly due to parents over-reporting children’s problems because of their own sleep problems. There may be some limitation however to a single nights recording of EEG data possibly miss-representing usual sleep habits.
In conclusion it is important for practitioners to consider children’s sleep quality in the family context. In particular maternal insomnia appears to be associated with children’s objectively measured sleep duration, sleep architecture, sleep onset and waking time.
The association of mothers’ and fathers’ insomnia symptoms with school-aged children’s sleep assessed by parent report and in-home sleep-electroencephalography
Natalie Urfer-Maurer, Rebekka Weidmann, Serge Brand, Edith Holsboer-Trachsler, Alexander Grob, Peter Weber, Sakari Lemola