Maternal Depressive Symptoms and Household Income in Relation to Sleep in Early Childhood

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Abstract

Objective Sleep health is critical for children to adapt to evolving cognitive-socioemotional contexts. Given that sleep timing in early childhood is instituted under caregiver control, the family context likely has an influential role on children’s sleep. This study investigated links between maternal depressive symptoms and variability in children’s sleep, and whether household income moderated this relation. Method 90 children (Mage = 53 ± 9 months) wore actigraphs to objectively measure sleep for 4–16 days. Mothers reported income and depressive symptomatology. Results Higher maternal depressive symptoms were related to greater variability in 24-hr sleep duration. Income moderated this relation. Lower income, but not maternal depressive symptoms, was linked to greater variability in sleep onset time. Conclusions Findings demonstrate important relations between maternal depressive symptoms, income, and children’s sleep. Understanding distal and proximal family characteristics that may be related to children’s developing sleep schedules could help identify populations and strategies for promoting optimal sleep health.

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