Parent Perspectives on Sleep and Sleep Habits Among Young Children Living With Economic Adversity

Barbara A. Caldwell, Monica R. Ordway, Lois S. Sadler, Nancy S. Redeker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the perspectives of ethnically diverse, low-income parents of young children regarding sleep, sleep habits, and preferences for sleep promotion for themselves and their children. Method: We recruited a sample of mothers who had a 15- to 60-month-old child enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants and Children in a Northeastern U.S. city. We used a convergent mixed-methods design to conduct semistructured interviews and questionnaires to measure parent sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index), sleep apnea (Berlin Apnea Questionnaire), mood (Centers for Epidemiological Studies of Depression), children's sleep (Children's Sleep Habits Questionnaire), and behavior (Child Behavior Checklist). Results: Thirty-two mothers (M age = 30.97 [SD 6.34] years; n = 21 [65%] African American) and children (N = 14 [44% female]; M age =38 [SD 12.63] months) participated. Children's average sleep duration was 10 hr, which is below the recommendation for this age group; overall sleep difficulty was high despite most mothers reporting that their children had normal sleep. Five children had abnormal Child Behavior Checklist scores, suggesting internalizing and externalizing behaviors. More than half of the mothers had poor sleep quality and 24 (75%) were at high risk for sleep apnea. Mothers viewed sleep as important for themselves and their children and identified both effective and ineffective practices to promote sleep, including practices learned from their own families. Conclusions: Ethnically diverse mothers who are living with economic adversity value sleep for themselves and their children. The high value placed on sleep, despite misconceptions about normal sleep, suggest opportunities to promote sleep interventions. The content and delivery methods should be tailored to their knowledge, preferences, and cultural practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-22
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Pediatric Health Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


  • Family
  • sleep
  • stress

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