Bedsharing, temperament, and sleep disturbance in early childhood

Sleep. 2001 Sep 15;24(6):657-62. doi: 10.1093/sleep/24.6.657.


Study objective: Temperament was explored as a factor in both night-waking and bedsharing in preschool-aged children.

Design: Bedsharers and solitary sleepers were categorized based on the frequency of current bedsharing. MANOVA was used to examine associations among temperament and sleep measures.

Setting: Two preschools affiliated with a rural university in the Northeast United States. Participants. 67 children between 2.4-5.6 years of age from two University-affiliated preschools were studied.

Intervention: Child temperament was rated by parents and teachers using the Carey Temperament Scale and compared to night-waking, current sleep habits, and the circumstances in which bedsharing occurred

Measurements and results: Parents and preschool teachers completed the Carey Temperament Scale for 3-7 year olds. Parents also scored the Sleep Habits Inventory and the Sleeping Arrangements Inventory, which provided a current and retrospective history of the child's sleep location and sleep patterns. Parents' ratings showed that bedsharers have less regular bedtimes; difficulty with sleep onset; more night-waking; and seek out the parents following awakening during the night. Temperamentally, bedsharers were found to be more intense and exhibit less adaptability and rhythmicity. However, teachers' temperament ratings did not predict bedsharing and were not concordant with parental ratings.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that bedsharing at preschool age is a complex phenomenon related to parents' ratings of child temperament, sleep habits, and disturbances such as night waking. Implications for the clinical assessment of sleep disorders are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Habits*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / psychology
  • Sleep*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Temperament / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / physiology