"Their Sleep Means More Harmony": Maternal Perspectives and Experiences of Preschoolers' Sleep in Ethnically and Socioeconomically Diverse Families in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Diane Muller, Sarah-Jane Paine, Lora J Wu, T Leigh Signal
Qualitative Health Research 2019 April 11, : 1049732319842156
Viewing sleep through a socioecological lens, maternal perceptions, and experiences of preschoolers' sleep were explored using semistructured interviews with 15 Māori (indigenous) and 16 non-Māori mothers, with low- and high socioeconomic position. Thematic analysis identified four themes: child happiness and health, maternal well-being, comfort and connection, and family functioning and harmony. Mothers perceived healthy preschooler sleep as supporting children's mental and physical health, parents' sleep/wake functioning, family social cohesion and emotional connectedness, and poor preschooler sleep as negatively influencing child, maternal and family well-being. Although many experiences were shared, some perceptions of sleep and sleep practices differed between mothers. Influences included health paradigms, socioeconomic circumstances, maternal autonomy, employment, parenting approaches, and societal expectations. Healthy preschooler sleep is valued by mothers and may play a protective role in family health and resilience. Preschooler sleep initiatives need to be responsive to maternal perspectives and address societal drivers of sleep experiences.

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