Is attachment security related to sleep-wake regulation? Mother's reports and objective sleep recordings

Anat Scher, Ronit Asher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study set out to examine the links between infants' sleep-wake regulation and attachment security. Subjects were 57 healthy, Israeli infant-mother dyads. Mother-child relationship was assessed at 12 months with the Attachment Q-Set (AQS) (Waters & Deane, 1985). Sleep was measured, objectively, with an activity monitor, as well as through maternal reports. The objective sleep records were not associated with either the security or the dependency score. In contrast, mothers' descriptions of the child's sleep problems were associated with the child's dependency placement. This result is in line with the premise that dependency, more than security, modulates the child's transitions to sleep. Since temperament was implicated in both the dependency placement and in the child's sleep pattern, a further disentangling of sleep-attachment-temperament is in order. Future studies of sleep regulation and attachment should address these constructs longitudinally, and include observational measures of attachment and of nighttime parenting, in different child-rearing contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-302
Number of pages15
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for the study was provided by a grant from the Israel Foundation Trustees (1998–2000). Parts of the data reported herein served for the MA thesis of the second author submitted to the University of Haifa. A version of this article was presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, April 2003, Tampa, Florida. The contribution of Eleanor Schneider, Anat Horowitz, Keren Gershgoren, Orit Raskin, and Annya Hillel in data collection, and of Sandra Zuckerman in data management are gratefully acknowledged. A number of colleagues provided valuable input: Avi Sadeh (actigraphs), David Oppenheim (AQS), and Marie Hayes (comments on an earlier draft). Special thanks are also due to the families who participated in the study.


  • Attachment security
  • Dependency
  • Infants
  • Night waking
  • Sleep
  • Temperament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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