Staying awake: Maternal separation anxiety and infants’ sleep-wake regulation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Infants’ sleep is controlled by biological, child variables, as well as by the caregiving context. How mothers feel about separation from their child shapes their caregiving behavior, and, in turn, impacts the child’s ability to regulate physiological and emotional states. While separation distress from the perspective of the child has been a topic of extensive research, the parental side of separation anxiety has attracted less interest. The focus of this chapter is on maternal separation anxiety (MSA) with a view to address its contribution to infants’ sleep patterns. The data are based on a longitudinal study in which mothers reported MSA levels and the child’s sleep was objectively measured with actigraphy. Results indicated that higher levels of MSA at 8 months predicted a later hour of falling asleep and more nightwaking at 12 months. The involvement of separation distress in regulating the child’s sleep-wake states is in accord with current models of mother-child relationships and with a transactional model of sleep regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Psychology Research, Volume 67
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781617619656
ISBN (Print)9781607418177
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2010 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Staying awake: Maternal separation anxiety and infants’ sleep-wake regulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this