Longitudinal associations between parental daily sleep, maternal daily mood, and parenting

Open Access
Rhee, Hye Young
Graduate Program:
Human Development and Family Studies
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
October 27, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Douglas Michael Teti, Dissertation Advisor
  • Douglas Michael Teti, Committee Chair
  • David Manuel Almeida, Committee Member
  • Sy-Miin Chow, Committee Member
  • Kristin Ann Buss, Outside Member
  • Gregory M Fosco, Committee Member
  • parental daily sleep
  • maternal daily mood dynamics
  • parenting
Parental mood disturbance and disrupted sleep are considered to be important predictors of parenting quality, particularly during the early postpartum period. Parents experience significant sleep loss and disturbances as they adapt to new demands of parenthood. In addition, mothers’ postpartum mood problems such as depression and anxiety, which have been known to be associated with postpartum sleep deprivation and disruptions, have been found to have negative influences on mothers’ early parenting quality. To date, few studies have examined longitudinal links between parental sleep, mood, and parenting in early infancy, and in particular studies that focus on both level and dynamics of parental daily mood in relation to sleep and parenting in early infancy are non-existent. Especially, mothers’ daily mood volatility may reflect an underlying self-regulatory capacity that may be predictive of parenting competence. This dissertation aimed to elucidate the daily associations between parental sleep and maternal mood (Study I), and the predictive linkages of maternal daily mood dynamics to early parenting quality, with particular attention on the emotional quality of parenting during infants’ bedtimes (Study II). Data for both studies were drawn from a larger NIH-funded study of 167 families (Project SIESTA, R01HD052809). Study I used actigraphy assessments of parental sleep and daily diary data for maternal mood in multilevel modeling to examine how both mothers’ and fathers’ daily sleep and mothers’ daily mood were associated across 21 days of infants’ first six months. Fathers’ and mothers’ greater sleep efficiency, mothers’ longer sleep duration, and less sleep fragmentation during the previous night predicted better maternal mood the following day. Furthermore, mothers’ overall distress, in addition to its negative direct effect on their daily mood, moderated the daily link between parental sleep and maternal mood. More distressed mothers tended to report significantly worse mood than less distressed mothers, even on days when they had less fragmented sleep and when fathers slept longer the night before. Study II used multilevel modeling to explore how dynamics of mothers’ daily mood, within-person variability as well as level of daily mood, were associated with maternal bedtime EA across infants’ first six months, after controlling for the effects of daily sleep dynamics. It was mothers’ day-to-day mood variability, but not the level of daily mood, that predicted mothers’ bedtime EA, indicating that mothers with higher daily mood variability showed lower bedtime EA. Overall, this dissertation contributes to a growing body of literature addressing within-person associations between parental sleep and mood, and linking day-to-day variability of mothers’ mood with their bedtime parenting quality. Collectively, the two studies provide evidence for an underlying mechanism linking parental sleep, mood, and parenting during early infancy. The results also highlight the utility of daily diary approaches in studying parental well-being during the early postpartum period, and in particular in elucidating the dynamic linkages between parental sleep, mood, and parenting.