A Behavioral Model of Infant Sleep Disturbance

J Appl Behav Anal. Winter 1993;26(4):477-92. doi: 10.1901/jaba.1993.26-477.


Chronic sleep disturbance, such as bed refusal, sleep-onset delay, and night waking with crying, affects 15% to 35% of preschool children. Biological factors, particularly arousals associated with recurrent episodes of rapid-eye-movement sleep, render infants vulnerable to repeated awakenings. Parental failure to establish appropriate stimulus control of sleep-related behaviors and parent-mediated contingencies of reinforcement for sleep-incompatible behaviors may shape and maintain infant sleep disturbance. Treatment and prevention strategies are discussed, and research needs are identified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Sleep Stages*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / psychology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy*
  • Social Environment
  • Wakefulness*