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child sleep studies and research

normal sleep patterns in infants and children: a systematic review of observational studies.

Sleep Med Rev. 2012 Jun;16(3):213-22. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2011.06.001. Epub 2011 Jul 23.


This is a systematic review of the scientific literature with regard to normal sleep patterns in infants and children (0-12 years). The review was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Mean and variability data for sleep duration, number of night wakings, sleep latency, longest sleep period overnight, and number of daytime naps were extracted from questionnaire or diary data from 34 eligible studies. Meta-analysis was conducted within age-bands and categories. In addition, fractional polynomial regression models were used to estimate best-fit equations for the sleep variables in relation to age. Reference values (means) and ranges (±1.96 SD) for sleep duration (hours) were: infant, 12.8 (9.7-15.9); toddler/preschool, 11.9 (9.9-13.8); and child, 9.2 (7.6-10.8). The best-fit (R(2)=0.89) equation for hours over the 0-12 year age range was 10.49-5.56×[(age/10)^0.5-0.71]. Meta-regression showed predominantly Asian countries had significantly shorter sleep (1h less over the 0-12 year range) compared to studies from Caucasian/non-Asian countries. Night waking data provided 4 age-bands up to 2 years ranging from 0 to 3.4 wakes per night for infants (0-2 months), to 0-2.5 per night (1-2 year-olds). Sleep latency data were sparse but estimated to be stable across 0-6 years. Because the main data analysis combined data from different countries and cultures, the reference values should be considered as global norms.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  • These child sleep problems also affects the well-being of their mothers. (Lam, Hiscock, & Wake, 2003)
  • Sleep problems at the age of 6-12 months predicted sleep and behavioral issues at age 3-4 years. (Lam et al. 2003)

Pediatrics. 2003 Mar;111(3):e203-7.

outcomes of infant sleep problems: a longitudinal study of sleep, behavior, and maternal well-being.

Lam P1, Hiscock H, Wake M.



In a community sample of children aged 3 to 4 years with previous infant sleep problems, we aimed to 1) establish proportions with recurring, persisting, and resolving sleep problems; 2) identify early predictors of later sleep problems; and 3) identify comorbidities of persistent or recurrent sleep problems at age 3 to 4 years.


A follow-up community survey was conducted of mothers of children aged 3 to 4 years who had, as 8- to 10-month-old infants with identified sleep problems, participated in a community-based, randomized, controlled trial of a brief sleep intervention from 3 middle-class local government areas in Melbourne, Australia. Infant sleep problems (standardized maternal questionnaire), maternal well-being (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale), child behavior problems (Child Behavior Check List for ages 1.5 to 5 years), marital satisfaction (Dyadic Adjustment Scale), and family functioning (General Functioning Scale, McMaster Family Assessment Device) were measured.


Seventy-three percent (114 of 156) of mothers responded, 36 (32%) of whom reported a current problem with their child's sleep. Current sleep problems were similar regardless of infant sleep intervention. Twelve percent (14 of 114) reported that their child's sleep problem had persisted, and 19% (21 of 113) reported that it had recurred. Children with current sleep problems were more likely still to be nursed to sleep by an adult and had slightly higher mean scores on Child Behavior Check List subscales for Aggressive Behavior (54 vs 52) and Somatic Problems (55 vs 53). Their mothers had higher Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale scores (median: 8 vs 5) and more difficulties with their partner undermining the management of their child. However, early depression did not predict current sleep problems. Families of children with sleep problems were functioning as well as those without sleep problems.


Persistence or recurrence of infant sleep problems in the preschool years is common and is associated with slightly higher child behavior problems and maternal depression scores. Results suggest that depressive symptoms are a result rather than cause of sleep problems. Despite this, families of children with sleep problems are functioning well.

Patterns of developmental change in infants' nighttime sleep awakenings from 6 through 36 months of age.


Weinraub, Marsha; Bender, Randall H.; Friedman, Sarah L.; Susman, Elizabeth J.; Knoke, Bonnie; Bradley, Robert; Houts, Renate; Williams, Jason Developmental Psychology, Vol 48(6), Nov 2012, 1511-1528



Nighttime sleep awakenings and infant and family characteristics were measured longitudinally in more than 1,200 infants when the infants were 6, 15, 24, and 36 months old. By 6 months of age, the majority of children slept through the night, awakening their mothers only about once or twice per week. However, not all children followed this predominant developmental pattern. Using growth mixture modeling, we identified 2 distinct developmental patterns. One group, labeled Sleepers, included 66% of the children. These children showed a flat trajectory of sleep awakenings from 6 through 36 months, with mothers reporting their infant awakening from sleep about 1 night per week. The second group, labeled Transitional Sleepers, included 34% of the infants. These children had 7 reported nights of awakenings per week at 6 months, dropping to 2 nights per week at 15 months and to 1 night per week by 24 months. Compared with Sleepers, Transitional Sleepers were more likely to be boys, score higher on the 6-month difficult temperament assessment, be breastfed at 6 and 15 months old, and have more depressed mothers at 6 months old. Using 2-group structural equation modeling, we examined individual differences at different points on the individual infants' sleep trajectories. For infants in both groups, reported sleep awakenings were associated with difficult temperament measured at 6 months, breastfeeding, infant illness, maternal depression, and greater maternal sensitivity. Infant–mother attachment measures were not related to these sleep awakenings. (PsycINFO 

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