Association of Maternal Depression and Anxiety Symptoms with Sleep Duration in Children at Preschool Age

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To evaluate the effect of maternal depression and anxiety symptoms on daily sleep duration in 4–5-year-old children.


Data were obtained from the PREDI Study, a larger cohort study conducted in Brazil. The current study is a cross-sectional study carried out in the homes of the participants between July 2016 and August 2017. The participants were submitted to anthropometric assessment and demographic, socioeconomic and psychological data were obtained. Total sleep time was self-reported by the women and classified as ≥ 10 or < 10 h of sleep/day. Maternal depression and anxiety symptoms were assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory and Beck Anxiety Inventory, respectively.


Of the 216 children included in the study, 77.3% and 22.7% had ≥ 10 and < 10 h of sleep/day, respectively. Regarding the women, 20.0% and 19.5% had moderate/severe depression and anxiety symptoms, respectively. Moderate/severe symptoms of maternal depression were associated with < 10 h of sleep/day (p = 0.034). Unadjusted analysis showed that children whose mothers had moderate/severe depression symptoms were significantly more likely to sleep < 10 h/day at 4–5 years of age than those whose mothers had minimal/mild depression symptoms (OR 2.38, p = 0.037). This association continued to be significant and increased to an OR of 3.99 (p = 0.006) after adjusting for potential confounders.

Conclusions for practice

Our study showed that sleeping less than 10 h/day at preschool age was associated with moderate/severe maternal depression symptoms. These results are important from a public health perspective since strategies designed to treat depression in women with school-age children may help improve their child’s sleep quality and, consequently, his cognitive performance and related behavioral and emotional problems in the future.

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The authors thank the Darcy Vargas Maternity Hospital of Joinville, Santa Catarina, Brazil, for allowing the data collection at their facilities.

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Correspondence to Marco F. Mastroeni.

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Schultz, L.F., Kroll, C., Constantino, B. et al. Association of Maternal Depression and Anxiety Symptoms with Sleep Duration in Children at Preschool Age. Matern Child Health J 24, 62–72 (2020).

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  • Preschoolers
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Preschool age