Mothers of young children tend to report poor-quality sleep, yet little is known about links between maternal sleep quality and weight-related behaviors and parenting practices. Thus, mothers of preschoolers completed an online cross-sectional survey assessing their sleep, physical activity, dietary behaviors, eating styles, child feeding practices, family meal behaviors, and health parameters. Comparisons by sleep quality using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index item (i.e., very bad/bad, n = 87; fair, n = 255; and good/very good, n = 193) revealed mothers with poor-quality sleep had weight-related behaviors associated with higher Body Mass Index (BMI) (lower physical activity, fewer fruits/vegetables, more emotional and disinhibited eating). Poor-quality sleepers also engaged in parenting practices contrary to recommendations, such as less frequent modeling of healthy eating and physical activity, more control of child feeding, and fewer family meals. Mothers reporting poor-quality sleep tended to have lower parenting self-efficacy, poorer overall health status, more days of poor mental and physical health, greater depression, more stress, and higher BMIs. Future nutrition research should establish the directionality between sleep quality and health behaviors. Future interventions should help mothers develop strategies for improving sleep quality, such as increased physical activity and fruit and vegetable intake, and helping mothers realize how their sleep quality may affect parenting practices.
Keywords: mothers; parenting practices; sleep; weight-related behaviors; young children.