Are your kids having difficulty falling asleep? Waking multiple times during the night? These behavioral sleep problems affect 20 to 30 percent of young kids. A lot of research has featured the drawbacks of young children’s behavioral sleep issues on their own well-being. But the minimal focus has been given to the impacts of children’s sleep problems on their own parents.
While a few studies have associated maternal depression to sleep problems, with depression rates reducing after nurses have assisted mothers in improving infants’ sleep, only less attention has been paid to the effects of infants’ sleep problems on their fathers.
Studying data from Canadian parents, our research group wanted to analyze ties between their thoughts about sleep problems, parents’ quality of sleep, parental depression and fatigue in the context of behavioral sleep problems among infants.
Following an intercession for infants’ sleep problems, we discovered that maternal depression was linked with their fatigue, sleep quality, and views about infant sleep like setting limits on infants’ sleep, doubts on handling infant sleep, and anger about infants’ sleep.
Paternal depression was linked with their fatigue, sleep quality, and thoughts about infant sleep such as setting limits around infants’ sleep and doubts about managing infant sleep. Fatigue and sleep quality are frequently considered as symptoms of maternal depression.
These discoveries are crucial due to the fact that a fathers’ depression has been analyzed less often and parental thoughts about an infant’s sleep have been extensively missed. Mothers’ and fathers’ thoughts sleep patterns affect whether they are at ease with assisting their young children to learn to calm themselves back to sleep. Such thoughts also determine whether parents feel they are disregarding their responsibilities if they are not pursuant in attending to their children’s needs at night.
The absence of support on both parental thoughts and infants’ sleep difficulties can result in doubting their competence to care for their kids. Parents diagnosed with or being treated for depression were not included as participants in our study.
Despite this, we discovered that, prior to the intervention, half of the mothers and one-third of fathers accounted for large depressive symptoms. After the intervention, a significant decrease to 18 percent of mothers and 15 percent of fathers were reported.
We also discovered that about 30 percent of mothers and 19 percent of fathers reported depression scores that showed clinically relevant depression. After the intervention, these scores dropped to nine percent (mothers) and eight percent (fathers) respectively. These findings indicate that depressed parents are directly linked with infants’ sleep problems, which depression was improved by an intervention to lessen infants’ sleep problems.
Tips for parents
How can parents lessen or avoid their feelings of depression? Parents need a chance to share their views and expectations about infant sleep problems and deal with them with a supportive care provider. It is significant for parents trying to manage infant sleep problems to recognize their needs aside from their children’s.
Healthy infants who are beyond six months of age and feeding well during day time do not need to wake often at night to feed or have their parents resettle them many times during the night. Mothers and fathers who are trying to help their infants learn to self-pacify are boosting their infants’ well-being by avoiding long-term sleep problems associated with elevated risk for children’s cognitive problems, psychological difficulties, and obesity.
Consequently, these parents also improve their own sleep and well-being. To prevent parental depression, parents are highly encouraged to seek reliable support for infants’ behavioral sleep problems instead of hoping they will “grow out of them.”
Family and friends can help
For parents living together, getting a quality sleep time is possible by taking turns to settle infant sleep problems. Engaging support from partners, relatives, and friends is important so that parents can have enough rest which can also lessen their risks of feeling depressed.
Also, spending quality time with infants especially during day and weekends can make parents appreciate their loving relationship with their kids and decrease their issues about neglecting their children during night time.
Parental depression is associated with withdrawn parenting interactions with their kids while maternal depression is linked with paternal stress, depression, and fewer interactions between fathers and children. That’s why parents are encouraged to discuss with each other and their care providers when they are feeling depressed and having a hard time carrying out regular caregiving activities.
Parents’ thoughts about infant sleep problems can influence their feelings of depression before and after an intervention to help their little ones sleep better. Helping parents deal with their infants’ behavioral sleep problems can improve the quality of life of both infants and parents.