JOURNAL ARTICLE

Time for bed! Earlier sleep onset is associated with longer nighttime sleep duration during infancy

Elizabeth L Adams, Jennifer S Savage, Lindsay Master, Orfeu M Buxton
Sleep Medicine 2020, 73: 238-245
32861189

OBJECTIVE/BACKGROUND: Clinical recommendations include putting infants to bed using a consistent bedtime routine at an appropriate hour to promote longer nighttime sleep. Actigraphy was used in this exploratory study to examine how bedtime routines and nighttime sleep onset were associated with nighttime total sleep time (TST) and efficiency from 6 to 24 weeks of age.

PATIENTS/METHODS: Infants (n = 24) wore sleep actigraphs for three, one-week periods at 6, 15, and 24 weeks of age. Nighttime TST, sleep efficiency, sleep onset and offset were quantified. Mothers reported on infant bedtime routines using the Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire at each age. Multilevel models examined between- and within-person associations.

RESULTS: As infants aged, sleep onset was earlier, and bedtime routines became shorter (p's < 0.05). Infants fell asleep between 7 and 8:00PM on 24% of the nights. Most mothers (70%) reported that they often fed infants to sleep for the night. For every 1 h earlier in infants' usual sleep onset, nighttime TST was 34.4 min longer that night (p < 0.01). Infants with earlier than usual sleep onset had slightly earlier sleep offset the next morning (8.4 min for every 1 h earlier in onset; p = 0.02). Between-person analyses showed similar patterns. Infants with a more consistent bedtime routine and who were not typically fed to sleep at bedtime had longer nighttime TST at 6 weeks, with a trend or no association at later ages.

CONCLUSION: Infants who fell asleep earlier also slept longer at night. Keeping infants up later in hopes of them sleeping in longer may be counterproductive.

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