UMaine study looks at infants and chronic nighttime crying

ts from sleep onset until awakening that appears to be critical," Hayes says. "Infants and toddlers are disrupted when the sleeping arrangements, i.e. the site of sleep, are variable or changed between sleep onset and later in the sleep period."

In the research paper, Fukumizu and Hayes say, "We are arguing that neither co-sleeping nor separate sleeping quarters matters fundamentally. Rather, it is the consistency in sleep site from the transition to sleep throughout the sleep period is most important. Parents should avoid "musical" beds, particularly during early infancy when night-feedings are common. We want to tell people that whatever they decide on for a sleeping arrangement, it must be kept the same."

Changing sleeping arrangements is disruptive to sleep in infants and toddlers possibly because infants are sensitive to what a familiar environment, particularly during a long sleep period. An infant waking up in a different place than where it went to sleep, Hayes and Fukumizu suggest, may be disorienting and contribute to night-time anxiety.

The study also found that toddlers with frequent sleep-related night-time crying (SRNC) were more likely to have irregular bedtimes and to have non-parental day care than were those without sleep-related night crying. And preschoolers who typically slept 9.5 to 10.5 hours per night were found less likely to experience SRNC than children with longer or shorter sleep periods. In addition to preventing parents from getting a good night's sleep, children in all groups experiencing frequent SRNC were more likely to suffer from a chronic eczema skin condition, and toddlers and preschoolers with SRNC exhibited bruxism (grinding teeth) more frequently, the researches found. Both conditions have been associated with anxiety.

Fukumizu says the impetus for the research was to try to shed light on a growing problem in Japan with new parents, who are becoming fewer as Japan's birth rates decline at

Contact: Marie Hayes
University of Maine

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