Michal Kahn, Natalie Barnett, Assaf Glazer, Michael Gradisar
Presented at the 25th Congress of the European Sleep Research Society (ESRS) 2020
Seeking professional help to improve infant sleep is usually based on parental beliefs that their child has a sleep problem. Such perceptions may be influenced not only by realistic aspects of the child’s sleep, but also by parents’ behaviours and emotions. This study tested which objective infant sleep measures and parent factors were most potent in predicting parent perceptions of a sleep problem, using auto-videosomnography within a large sample of infants.
Parents of 946 infants (46% girls) aged 2 weeks to 18 months participated in this cross-sectional study.
Infant sleep and parents’ nighttime crib visits were measured objectively using auto-videosomnography for 14 consecutive days in the naturalistic home-setting. Perceived infant sleep problems, parent depression levels, cry tolerance and demographic characteristics were reported by parents in an online survey.
Logistic regression analyses revealed that the factor most strongly associated with perceived infant sleep problems was parental nighttime crib visits, as every additional visit was associated with a 31% increase in odds of parent-defined infant sleep problems (Wald = 32.68, p < 0.001, OR = 1.31, 99%CI: 1.16, 1.48). This was followed by decreased sleep duration (Wald = 30.34, p < 0.001, OR = 0.58, 99%CI: 0.45, 0.75), low cry tolerance (Wald = 17.32, p < 0.001, OR = 0.69, 99%CI: 0.46, 0.89), greater parental depression levels (Wald = 9.68, p = 0.002, OR = 1.06, 99%CI: 1.01, 1.12) and early sleep offset time (Wald = 9.17, p = 0.002, OR = 0.70, 99%CI: 0.55, 0.95). Minor differences were recorded between determinants of maternal compared to paternal perceptions.
The results of the present study revealed that the most potent predictor of perceived infant sleep problems was an aspect of parental – rather than infant – behavior. Researchers, clinicians and parents should be aware of the major role parental behaviours play in infant sleep problem perception, which in turn may determine whether or not they choose to seek treatment for these problems.
About the Researchers
The researchers included Michal Kahn, Natalie Barnett, Assaf Glazer, 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.
This study was supported by Nanit.
Conflict of interest statement
(a) Financial disclosure: MG has served a Pro-Bono consultant for Nanit. NB and MK have served as consultants for Nanit. AG was an employee of Nanit at the time of study implementation. (b) Non-financial disclosure: none