Sleep and sleep ecology in the first 3 years: a web-based study

J Sleep Res. 2009 Mar;18(1):60-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00699.x. Epub 2008 Oct 16.


This study was designed to provide data on sleep patterns during the first 3 years, based on a large US-Canada Internet sample, to assess the prevalence of parental interventions and related factors of infant sleep ecology and to evaluate the links between sleep ecology and sleep. Five thousand six parents completed a web-based online questionnaire about their children, aged from birth to 36 months. The questionnaire included items pertaining to sleep patterns, sleep environment, sleep-related parental interventions, sleep position, and demographic information. The results reflected clear sleep-related developmental changes including a decrease in daytime sleep and total sleep time, as well as consolidation of sleep during the night, which was manifested in a decrease in night wakings and nocturnal wakefulness. Sleep ecology and parental behaviors significantly explained a portion of the variance in the child's sleep patterns. Parental interventions that encourage independence and self-soothing were associated with extended and more consolidated sleep, especially in comparison to more active interactions that were associated with shorter and more fragmented sleep. These findings provide parents and professionals reference data for assessing sleep in young children. Furthermore, the results provide information on specific ecological factors that are associated with increased risk for sleep problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Sleep*
  • Social Environment*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Wakefulness*