The Interaction between Lockdown-Specific Conditions and Family-Specific Variables Explains the Presence of Child Insomnia during COVID-19: A Key Response to the Current Debate

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

An article published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health by Florian Lecuelle (PAM et WAKING CRNL), Patricia Franco (WAKING CRNL) and Benjamin Putois (PAM CRNL) on COVID and child-mother sleep.

Abstract: It is still debated whether lockdown conditions in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) health crisis seriously affected children’s sleep. For young children, some studies identified more insomnia, while others only transient disturbances, or even no effect. Based on the premise of mother–child synchrony, a well-known dynamic established in child development research, we hypothesized that principally, the children whose mothers perceived the lockdown as stressful and/or responded maladaptively, suffered sleep disturbances. The main objective of this study was to identify the family profiles, variables, and lockdown responses most linked to insomnia in young children. The sample consisted of 165 mothers, French vs. Swiss origin (accounting for different lockdown severities), of children 6 months to 5 years old. Validated sleep, stress, and behavior scales were used. Multiple regression, age-matched clustering, and structural equation modeling analyses provided evidence that insomnia in young children is indeed strongly linked to the mother’s reaction to the pandemic and lockdown. Specifically, reactions such as COVID-19 fear/anxiety and obsessive COVID-19 information seeking coincide with heightened vigilance, cascading into reduced child social contact, outings, and increased screen viewing, ultimately culminating in child insomnia and behavioral problems. Mother education level and child day care quality (e.g., home-schooling) were also identified as strong insomnia predictors.

Keywords: sleep disturbance; young children; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; lockdown; health crisis

 

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