Reciprocal Influences Among Family Processes and Toddlers' Sleep Problems

J Fam Psychol. 2016 Sep;30(6):720-31. doi: 10.1037/fam0000202. Epub 2016 May 30.


The current study examined bidirectional relations between children's sleep problems and parents' relationship satisfaction, coparental cooperation, and global family functioning in a sample of 249 families with 2-3-year-old children. Mothers and fathers were assessed across 5 waves with 2-month lags; the target children (53% female) were 2.8 years old (SD = .62) at baseline. Results of lagged path analyses indicated that children's sleep problems were reciprocally related to lower relationship satisfaction for mothers after accounting for covariates; however, for fathers, only relationship satisfaction predicted residual decreases in children's sleep problems 2 months later. Coparental cooperation also demonstrated reciprocal predictive links with fewer children's sleep problems in mothers; no such effect was found for fathers. Finally, for fathers, family functioning predicted residual decreases in children's sleep problems 2 months later across the 5 waves of the study. Findings build on a growing body of literature addressing reciprocal links between toddlers' sleep problems and adaptive family processes and highlight the importance of examining children's sleep within the context of the larger family system. (PsycINFO Database Record

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family Relations / psychology*
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / psychology*