Children of mothers with insomnia fall asleep later, get less shut eye and spend less time in deep sleep, new research reveals.
This is not true for fathers who struggle to nod off, which is thought to be due to mothers typically spending more time with their children and therefore having a greater influence on their sleep habits, a study found.
When both parents have sleep problems, their children have more difficulties getting into bed and do not get enough shut eye, the research adds.
Aside from youngsters ‘learning’ sleep habits from their mothers, families may also share genes that predispose them to insomnia, the researchers speculate.
Alternatively, if arguments occur in the evening, the sleep of the entire family may be affected, they add.
Children of mothers with insomnia fall asleep later and get less shut eye (stock image)
PARENTS WHO WORRY ABOUT THEIR CHILDREN’S SLEEP ARE MORE PRONE TO DEPRESSION
Parents who worry about their children’s sleep habits are more prone to depression, research suggested in June.
Educating parents on how to help their youngsters nod off significantly eases the mental health condition, a study found.
Among severe sufferers of the illness, almost 30 percent of mothers and 20 percent of fathers see their symptoms improve after 24 weeks of sleep treatment, the research adds.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia believe their findings demonstrate how treating children’s insomnia can give parents a mental health boost.
How the research was carried out
Researchers from the universities of Warwick and Basel analysed 191 children aged seven to 12 years old and their parents.
The children participant’s sleep was assessed via an at-home electroencephalography, which records electrical activity in the brain and determines sleep stages.
Parents self-reported any of their own insomnia symptoms and those of their children.
Children of mothers with insomnia fall asleep later and get less shut eye
Results reveal children of mothers with insomnia fall asleep later, get less shut eye and spend less time in deep sleep.
There is no association between fathers’ sleep problems and those of their children.
The researchers believe mothers have more of an influence on the sleep habits of their children as they typically spend more time with youngsters than fathers do.
When both parents report sleep problems, children have more difficulty getting into bed and do not get enough shut eye.
The researchers add children may learn sleep habits from their parents or families could share genes that predispose them to insomnia.
Events in the household, such as evening arguments, may affect the sleep of the entire family. Alternatively, parents with insomnia may try to overly control the sleep of their children, resulting in negative outcomes.
Lead author Dr Sakari Lemola said: ‘These findings are important because sleep in childhood is essential for wellbeing and development.
‘The findings show that children’s sleep has to be considered in the family context. In particular, the mother’s sleep appears to be important for how well school-aged children sleep.’
The findings were published in the journal Sleep Medicine.