A study conducted in Finland found that parents with sleep problems also reported the same in children even though an actigraph showed differently, NPR reports.
The study, conducted in Finland, looked at 100 children ages 2 to 6. Their parents filled out questionnaires about the sleep quality of their kids and also of themselves. And for a week, the children wore an actigraph, which is a wearable band that measures movement and can estimate periods of sleep. Think of it as a souped-up Fitbit.
The authors found that parents with their own sleep problems more frequently reported that their children had sleeping difficulties, even when the actigraph data suggested differently. “People who sleep poorly overestimate their children’s sleep problems,” said Marko Elovainio, a professor of psychology at the University of Helsinki and an author of the study, which appears Thursday in the journal Pediatrics.
And that could be important, since the diagnosis and treatment of the child’s sleep issues is often based on reports by parents. “Physicians shouldn’t be relying on that,” but should also try to use more objective measures and to weigh the potential role of a parent’s own sleeping problems, said Elovainio.
Previous studies have shown that tired people are more likely to experience and remember negative events and details, the authors noted. So it would make sense that tired parents might overstate difficulties with getting a child to go to bed and stay there.