IV. Reactivity and sleep in infants: A longitudinal objective assessment Academic Article uri icon


  • Sleep patterns and temperament in the first year of life are closely related. However, research utilizing objective, rather than subjective measurements of sleep and temperament is scarce and results are inconsistent. In addition, a relative lack of longitudinal data prevents inference of causality between the two constructs. In this study, infant sleep was objectively assessed among 95 infants at 3, 6, and 12 months-of-age with an actigraph in the home setting. Reactivity to sound, light, and touch, a specific aspect of temperament, was behaviorally assessed at 3 and 6 months, both during sleep (at home) and during waking (at the laboratory). Expected maturational trends were recorded in sleep, with a temporal increase in sleep efficiency and percent of motionless sleep. Quadratic (i.e., inverse U shape) relations were found, especially among girls, when predicting change in sleep by reactivity thresholds, suggesting that both hyposensitive and hypersensitive infants are at risk for poor sleep quality. These are the first research findings suggesting that low reactivity in infancy might be associated with compromised sleep quality. The observed nonlinear effects may account for null or inconsistent results in previous studies that explored only linear associations between temperament and sleep. Future studies should address both extremes of the temperament continuum when exploring relations with sleep patterns. © 2015 The Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.

publication date

  • January 1, 2015