It's the age-old sign of motherhood - sleep being less than abundant, particularly in early years. Now research from the Universities of Warwick and Basel suggest that children whose moms have insomnia symptoms have more difficulty falling asleep, sleep less, and have less time in deep/REM sleep.
Related: Study: Over Half of U.S. Moms Not Following Safe Sleeping Practices
The researchers looked at about 200 children who were seven-to-twelve-years old and otherwise healthy. They used in-home electroencephalographies (EEG) to assess the children one night. This allowed them to record the brain's electrical activity, which they then correlated to different sleep stages in the children. They also used parents' assessments of sleep problem symptomology in both themselves and their children.
They found that in the children whose mothers reported sleep insomnia symptoms themselves, they seemed to fall asleep later than those whose mothers did not report issues, and spent less time in deep sleep based on EEG data. The sleep patterns of the fathers had no association compared to their children's sleep, as measured by EEG.
Lead author Dr. Sakari Lemola from Warick's Department of Psychology said that they believe that children spend more time with their mothers, on average, than their fathers, and that could mean a stronger mutual influence.
Children may acquire sleep patterns from the parents, both genetically and learned, and mothers who have sleep problems may suffer from 'selective attention,' to both their own and their children's sleep issues. This may result in increased awareness and monitoring of sleep, which Dr. Lemola believes may affect sleep negatively because of such intense focus.
Related: Study: Sleep Plays Important Role In Infant Recall
Short sleep cycles and poor sleep habits can affect learning, memory and mental health in school-aged children, and an approximate 30% of adults claim they have sleep issues that affect their day-to-day lives. Sleep is important to healthy immune systems.