Parents of bad sleepers suffer daytime dysfunction
Parents of infants with poor sleeping habits are three times more likely to experience daytime dysfunction — which can impede activities such as driving, and social and occupational performance — compared with parents of infants without sleep troubles.
Flinders University researchers, in collaboration with New York-based tech company Nanit, found that, as infants continue to have sleep problems, the likelihood of parents reporting daytime dysfunction increases by 14% per month, and with sleep problems prevalent in 20–30% of infants, potentially impacts a significant portion of parents.
The study used Nanit’s smart baby monitors to track infant sleep quality across 619 families, with data automatically analysed via a computer vision algorithm. A Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire was then used to measure the presence of infant sleep problems as reported by parents. To measure parents’ daytime dysfunction, researchers adopted a sub-component of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), a self-report questionnaire assessing sleep quality.
Professor Michael Gradisar, study author and Clinical Psychologist at the Child and Adolescent Sleep Clinic at Flinders University, said the Nanit camera system and artificial intelligence (AI) allows for objective measurement of infant sleep quality and parent behaviour.
“This is going to give researchers insights that we’ve not had on this scale before. It will ultimately lead us to provide parents with the best advice to improve their infant’s sleep health,” said Professor Gradisar.
Flinders University and Nanit have collaborated on an additional study to provide objective evidence of the link between parental involvement and deficient infant sleep, finding that parental night-time visits are more frequent for younger infants and those with poorer sleep quality. The study evaluated whether infant age and gender interact to predict parental night-time involvement.
“We have so many questions that can now be answered by leveraging Nanit’s technology,” said Dr Michal Kahn, study co-author and a postdoctoral fellow at Flinders University. “We’re looking forward to doing many more innovative projects together.”
The joint findings of the correlation between infant sleep and parent daytime dysfunction were presented at World Sleep 2019, the biennial conference of the World Sleep Society in Vancouver, where lead author Meg Pillion presented the research paper ‘Are parents of infants with sleep problems at risk for daytime dysfunction?’
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