Massage-based bedtime routine: impact on sleep and mood in infants and mothers

Sleep Med. 2018 Jan:41:51-57. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2017.09.010. Epub 2017 Oct 10.


Establishment of a consistent bedtime routine is often recommended to families with young children with sleep difficulties. However, there are limited studies assessing specific bedtime routines in the treatment of infant and toddler sleep disturbances. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the impact of a massage-based bedtime routine on infant sleep, maternal sleep, and maternal mood. A total of 123 mothers and their 3- to 18-month-old infant were randomly assigned to a routine (one-week baseline of usual bedtime routine, two-weeks intervention) or control group (three-weeks of their usual bedtime routine). All mothers completed the Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire (BISQ) on a weekly basis and measures of maternal sleep and mood (eg, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Epworth Sleepiness Scale, and Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale). This bedtime routine resulted in improvements in child and mother night wakings, maternal perceptions of child sleep and mood (ie, sleep problem, bedtime ease, and morning mood), and improvements in maternal sleep quality. No comparative changes were seen in the control group. Notably, other than number of night wakings for both the child and the mother, there were no changes in other sleep patterns including sleep onset latency, duration of night wakings, longest stretch of sleep, or sleep duration. This study supports recommending a massage-based routine in those families, with the codicil that improvements in maternal perceptions and maternal sleep will be noted, with few improvements in sleep itself other than night wakings.

Keywords: Bedtime routine; Behavioral intervention; Infant; Massage; Sleep; Toddler.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult