Mother-infant sleep patterns and parental functioning of room-sharing and solitary-sleeping families: A longitudinal study from 3 to 18 months

Ella Volkovich, Eran Bar-Kalifa, Gal Meiri, Liat Tikotzky

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38 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: To examine longitudinally differences in (1) objective and subjective sleep patterns and (2) parenting functioning (i.e. maternal emotional distress, maternal separation anxiety, and parental involvement in infant care) between room-sharing and solitary-sleeping mother-infant dyads. Methods: Maternal and infant sleep, sleeping arrangements, and parental functioning were assessed at 3 (N = 146), 6 (N = 141), 12 (N = 135), and 18 (N = 130) months postpartum. Maternal and infant sleep were assessed with actigraphy and sleep diaries for five nights. Questionnaires were used to assess sleeping arrangements, nighttime breastfeeding, and parental functioning. Results: Persistent room-sharing mothers (i.e. sharing a room with the infant on at least three assessment points) had significantly lower actigraphy-based sleep percent, lower longest sleep periods, and more night-wakings than persistent solitary-sleeping mothers. For infants, differences in actigraphic sleep were found only in longest sleep period, although mothers of persistent room-sharing infants reported more infant night-wakings than mothers of persistent solitary-sleeping infants. The trajectories of maternal and infant sleep in both room-sharing and solitary-sleeping groups demonstrated that sleep became more consolidated with time. Group differences indicated higher maternal separation anxiety and lower paternal overall and nighttime involvement in infant caregiving in room-sharing families compared with solitary-sleeping families. Conclusions: The findings are discussed in light of the latest American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation to share a room until 12 months postpartum. Although no causal effects can be inferred from this study, maternal sleep quality and certain parenting characteristics seem to be important factors to consider when parents consult about sleeping arrangements.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Sleep Research Society 2017.


This study was supported by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation (Grant number 1075/10). This was not an industry-supported study.

FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1075/10


    • Actigraphy
    • Development
    • Infant sleep
    • Maternal sleep
    • Parenting
    • Room-sharing
    • Sleeping arrangements


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