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Mom’s Mood May Help or Harm Child’s Sleep

Mom’s Mood May Help or Harm Child’s Sleep

A mother’s depressive mood before and after birth is related to child sleep disturbances, according to recent pilot data from a longitudinal cohort study in kindergarten children.

“The most surprising thing about our results was the mediation role of child behavior in the maternal emotion/children’s sleep quality relationship. This demonstrates that emotion during pregnancy affects a child’s behavior which further affects their sleep,” said principal investigator and lead author Jianghong Liu, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN.

Liu is an associate professor at the Schools of Nursing and Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Furthermore, we found that happiness increased across the trimesters and that happiness during the second and third trimester was protective against child sleep problems.”

Participants included 833 kindergarteners with mean age of about six years old. Women’s emotional status, including prenatal/postnatal depressive emotion and perceived happiness throughout trimesters, was rated by a self-designed set of questions with a 5-point scale for happiness and a 3-point scale for depression.

Sleep problems were assessed using the sleep subdomain of the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Child behavioral problems were measured using the CBCL total score. General linear models were performed to examine the adjusted associations between childhood sleep problems and maternal emotional status.

The research abstract appears in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and was presented at SLEEP 2018, the 32nd annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS).

Statistical modeling showed that children of women who expressed either depressive emotion during the postnatal period or during both the prenatal and postnatal periods were more likely to exhibit sleep disturbances.

Similarly, increased levels of happiness in the second and third trimester were significantly associated with decreased risk for children’s sleep problems. Results show a significant mediation effect of the child’s behavior on the maternal emotion and child sleep relationship.

According to Liu and her U.S. and Chinese co-authors (Drs. Xiaopeng Ji, Guanghai Wang, Yuli Li and Jennifer Pinto-Martin), these results are noteworthy because they highlight the importance of prenatal maternal emotional health and its impact on child sleep outcomes.

“These results promote the caretaking of maternal health and happiness during pregnancy and encourage the roles of familial and community support in aiding expecting mothers. This will benefit not only maternal health but also the long-term behavioral and sleep health of their child,” said Liu.

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine/EurekAlert

Mom’s Mood May Help or Harm Child’s Sleep

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Mom’s Mood May Help or Harm Child’s Sleep. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 7 Jun 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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