Early parental positive personality and stress: Longitudinal associations with children's sleep

Samantha A. Miadich, Leah Doane, Mary Davis, Kathryn Lemery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objectives: The current study examined the influence of early parental stress and positive parent personality during infancy on sleep in middle childhood. Further, the role of positive parent personality as a buffer of the association between parental stress and sleep was considered. Methods: Participants included 381 twins and their primary caregivers who were recruited from birth records in the United States. Primary caregivers completed survey assessments via phone when twins were 12 and 30 months of age to assess multiple dimensions of parental stress and positive parent personality. Approximately 6 years later (M = 5.78, SD = 0.42), twins participated in an intensive assessment that included wearing actigraph watches to provide an objective measurement of sleep, while primary caregivers completed daily diaries regarding twins' sleep. Results: Positive parent personality was associated prospectively with longer actigraphy sleep duration and higher parent-reported sleep quality/daytime functioning. Parental stress was associated prospectively with greater variability in sleep duration. Positive parent personality moderated the parental stress – sleep-timing relation, such that greater parental stress was associated with a later midpoint of the sleep period only for children with parents low on positive personality (e.g., low optimism). All other findings were non-significant. Conclusions: Findings suggest that both positive attributes and stress may influence sleep in middle childhood and that low parent positive personality may exacerbate associations between parental stress and later timing of sleep periods in children. Early interventions to promote healthy sleeping may consider focusing on decreasing parental stress and increasing parental empathy and optimism as early as infancy. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? Early-life experiences, especially adversity, have been related to health outcomes among adults and children, such that negative experiences are associated with poor health outcomes. Poor sleep (e.g., short duration, poor quality) among children is associated with negative outcomes including poorer cognitive performance and higher adiposity. What does this study add? This study used a prospective design to understand relations between early parent-related factors and child sleep. Early parental stress and positive parent personality were associated with objective sleep quality. Positive parent personality during infancy may have promotive/protective influences on sleep later in childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-650
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • paediatric sleep
  • parental stress
  • positive parent personality
  • resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Early parental positive personality and stress: Longitudinal associations with children's sleep'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this