Cross-cultural differences in infant and toddler sleep

Sleep Med. 2010 Mar;11(3):274-80. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2009.04.012. Epub 2010 Feb 6.

Abstract

Background: To characterize cross-cultural sleep patterns and sleep problems in a large sample of children ages birth to 36 months in multiple predominantly-Asian (P-A) and predominantly-Caucasian (P-C) countries.

Methods: Parents of 29,287 infants and toddlers (predominantly-Asian countries/regions: China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam; predominantly-Caucasian countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States) completed an internet-based expanded version of the Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire.

Results: Overall, children from P-A countries had significantly later bedtimes, shorter total sleep times, increased parental perception of sleep problems, and were more likely to both bed-share and room-share than children from P-C countries, p<.001. Bedtimes ranged from 19:27 (New Zealand) to 22:17 (Hong Kong) and total sleep time from 11.6 (Japan) to 13.3 (New Zealand) hours, p<.0001. There were limited differences in daytime sleep. Bed-sharing with parents ranged from 5.8% in New Zealand to 83.2% in Vietnam. There was also a wide range in the percentage of parents who perceived that their child had a sleep problem (11% in Thailand to 76% in China).

Conclusions: Overall, children from predominantly-Asian countries had significantly later bedtimes, shorter total sleep times, increased parental perception of sleep problems, and were more likely to room-share than children from predominantly-Caucasian countries/regions. These results indicate substantial differences in sleep patterns in young children across culturally diverse countries/regions. Further studies are needed to understand the basis for and impact of these interesting differences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Asia, Southeastern
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Australia
  • Birth Order
  • Canada
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Far East
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • New Zealand
  • Parents
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / ethnology
  • Sleep*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom
  • United States