Michal Kahn, Natalie Barnett, Assaf Glazer, and Michael Gradisar
The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted families, yet studies on its effects on infants and their parents have thus far been sparse and based mostly on retrospective parent reporting. This study aimed to prospectively evaluate the impact of COVID-19 living conditions on infant and parent sleep, as well as infant screen exposure, parent daytime sleepiness, and parent depression levels, using multi-method assessment.
Infant and parent data collected in 2020 were compared with a matched cohort collected in 2019. The total sample included 1518 US infants aged 1-18 months (M = 8.5, SD = 4.6; 54% boys). Auto-videosomnography metrics were obtained from the 14-day period prior to survey completion (number of analyzed nights: M = 12.11 SD = 2.66 in the 2019 cohort; and M = 11.91 SD = 2.41 in the 2020 cohort). Parents completed online questionnaires regarding their infant's sleep and screen exposure, as well as their own sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, and depression levels.
Compared to 2019, infants in 2020 slept ∼40 min more per night on average, as indicated by auto-videosomnography. Infants additionally had earlier sleep timing, and increased parent-reported sleep-onset latency and nocturnal wakefulness. Infant screen time rose by 18.3 min per day for older infants, but remained stable for younger infants. Parents reported lower daytime sleepiness and higher depression symptomology during 2020, whereas no change was apparent in their sleep quality ratings.
Restricted living conditions during COVID-19 in the USA led to increased infant screen exposure and parental depression, but also to increased infant sleep duration and reduced parent sleepiness. Future research is needed to examine the mechanistic pathways through which COVID-19 impacted on infant and parent well-being.
COVID-19; Infants; Parents; Screen time; Sleep; Videosomnography.
About the Researchers
The researchers included Michal Kahn, Natalie Barnett, Assaf Glazer, and Michael Gradisar.
- Dr. Michal Kahn is a sleep researcher and licensed clinical psychologist, specializing in pediatric insomnia and sleep development. She is a senior lecturer (assistant professor) at the School of Psychological Sciences at Tel Aviv University, Israel.
- Dr. Natalie Barnett serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.
- Dr. Michael Gradisar is a Professor and Director and Clinical Psychologist at the Child & Adolescent Sleep Clinic at WINK Sleep in Australia, and the Head of Sleep Science at Sleep Cycle in Sweden. Dr. Gradisar has specialized in the treatment of pediatric sleep problems since 2006. He has provided training to over 420 psychologists throughout Australia on the treatment of pediatric sleep disorders, and published several research studies evaluating the treatment of insomnia and circadian rhythm disorders in children, adolescents and adults. In all, Dr. Gradisar has over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals, has authored several book chapters, and has presented on sleep-related research and intervention internationally.