Attachment and sleep: A study of night waking in 12-month-old infants

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    Sleep regulation was examined from a mother-child relational perspective. Although the link between sleep and attachment has been previously discussed, empirical support is rather limited. This report, which is a part of a longitudinal investigation of sleep in infancy, examines the association between the child's sleep pattern and mother-infant attachment in 94 mother-infant dyads. At 12 months each dyad participated in the Strange Situation procedure; 77% were securely attached. Mothers' description of the infant's fussiness was not found to predict the attachment pattern, but was associated with the sleep habits. It was found that 55% of the secure and 60% of the ambivalent children were described as night wakers. To a sub-group of 37 infants, a sleep monitor (actigraph) was provided for two nights' recordings. The frequency of the objective awakenings was higher than what mothers reported but similar for the secure and insecure infants. The findings confirm that night waking at the end of the first year is a common developmental phenomenon. Among this group of non-risk infants, sleep characteristics were only marginally associated with the quality of the child's attachment relationship.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)274-285
    Number of pages12
    JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 2001


    • Attachment
    • Infant
    • Night waking
    • Sleep

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Developmental Neuroscience
    • Developmental Biology
    • Behavioral Neuroscience


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