Kids of insomniac mums are bad sleepers

"The mother’s sleep appears to be important for how well school-aged children sleep."
"The mother’s sleep appears to be important for how well school-aged children sleep." Photo: Shutterstock

Children of insomniac mothers have trouble getting to sleep and spend less time in deep sleep, according to a recent study.

But I can't help feeling what comes first - the chicken or the egg? Are the mums suffering insomnia because their children don't sleep in the first place or it is the other way around?

According to researchers from the universities of Warwick and Basel, while children learn poor sleeping habits from their mums, the connection may even be genetic, sharing genes that predispose them both to insomnia.

They analysed the sleep patterns of 191 children aged seven to 12-years-old and those of their parents.

The children's sleep patterns were assessed via an at-home electroencephalography, which records electrical activity in the brain and can assess various sleep stages.

Parents were also asked to self-report any insomnia symptoms of their own and their children.

Researchers found that children of insomnia mums fell asleep later, slept less and spent less time in deep sleep.

"These findings show that children's sleep has to be considered in the family context," lead author Dr Sakari Lemola said in the findings published in the journal Sleep Medicine.

"In particular, the mother's sleep appears to be important for how well school-aged children sleep."

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Researchers also said events in the household, like evening arguments, could also affect the sleep of the entire family. While parents with insomnia, might also be too controlling over their children's sleeping arrangements, which could be detrimental.

Interestingly, the study found that if father's alone had insomnia, that their sleep issues did not impact on their children, as they believed mother's had a greater impact on their children's sleep patterns because they typically spent more time with their children.

However, if both parents had insomnia then it did impact on their children.

Perhaps the mere fact they have children in the first place is causing parents not to sleep, which in turn impacts further on the kids' lack of sleep and so it goes.