Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
Mother’s Insomnia & Cosleeping (1 of 2)
February 26, 2024

Found in age groups

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A Healthy Child Needs a Healthy Brain, A Healthy Brain Needs Healthy Sleep

Blog Posts 15, based on the United States of America Department of the Army Field Manual: Holistic Healing and Fitness, describe what really matters for your child’s sleep. If sleep is an important enough topic for national defense than surely sleep should be considered a serious topic for parenting!

Blog 178Mother’s Insomnia & Cosleeping (1 of 2)

A study by Professor Liat Tikotzky of about 500 families with children 3-36 months-old investigated what happens to children if their mothers have difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep (maternal insomnia symptoms):

  1. Mothers with insomnia symptoms were also more likely to have symptoms of depression. The study did not examine which came first, maternal insomnia or maternal depression.
  1. Mothers with insomnia symptoms were also more likely to have a child with a sleeping problem; in particular, sleep fragmentation (more night wakings and longer bouts of nighttime wakefulness).  Blog Post 11. The study did not examine which came first, maternal insomnia or the child’s sleeping problem.
  1. But the mother’s symptoms of depression were not directly associated with her child’s sleeping problem.  

It is possible that the mother’s insomnia symptoms are the root cause of both her symptoms of depression and her child having sleeping problems.  If correct, focusing on the mother’s insomnia symptoms might be more productive than focusing only on either the mother’s depressive symptoms or her child’s sleep problems.  Why?  Only focusing on either the mother’s depression symptoms or the child’s sleeping problems may not be helpful because they might not be directly related. Instead, the association between maternal depression symptoms and her child’s sleeping problems might be mediated through the mother’s insomnia. In other words, the mother’s insomnia might be the core problem.

Ideally, the mother’s insomnia symptoms, the mother’s depression symptoms, and the infant’s sleep problems should all be addressed because they are inter-related.  

Separately, Dr. Isabel Morales-Munoz observed that some mothers are ‘owls’; that is, they have ‘eveningness preference’; these mothers prefer to go to bed late, wake up late, and feel better in the evening (Blog Post 70). The children of mothers with ‘eveningness preference’ required more time to fall asleep after being put down and had more sleep difficulties. However, the total sleep duration of children whose mothers were ‘owls’ was not different from children whose mothers were ‘larks’ who had ‘morningness preference.’ This proves that early bedtimes, not just sleep duration, makes for healthier sleep (Blog Posts 7, 22, 68, and 69)!  Perhaps mothers who are ‘owls’ are more likely to have insomnia symptoms compared to mothers who are ‘larks.  Some studies on adults, in general, (not just mothers) suggest that ‘owls’ are more likely to have symptoms of disturbed sleep and/or emotional distress.

Additionally, Professor Tikotzky reported that during the 3rd month of pregnancy, mothers with objective frequent and prolonged night wakings (more maternal insomnia symptoms) are more likely to co-sleep with their infants at 6 months.  

(To be continued)

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