A new sleep research study links infant sleep troubles and daytime dysfunction among parents, reports Flinders University in partnership with New York-based tech company Nanit. The joint findings were presented at World Sleep 2019.
For parents of infants with sleep problems, the study finds there is approximately three times the risk of experiencing daytime dysfunction as compared to the parents of infants without sleep problems. Further, as infants continue to have sleep problems, the likelihood of parents reporting daytime dysfunction increases by 14% per month.

Daytime dysfunction can impede activities including driving and occupational performance and, with sleep problems prevalent in 20% -30% of infants, potentially impacts a significant portion of parents.

Michael Gradisar, PhD, clinical psychologist at the Child & Adolescent Sleep Clinic at Flinders University and an author of the study, says in a release, “The Nanit camera system and AI allowed for objective measurement of both the infants’ sleep quality and parents’ behavior. This is going to give researchers insights that we’ve not had on this scale before, and will ultimately lead us to provide parents with the best advice to improve their infant’s sleep health.”

The study employed Nanit’s smart baby monitors to track infant sleep quality across 619 families and automatically analyze the data with its computer vision algorithm. The Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire was then used to measure the presence of infant sleep problems as reported by parents. To measure parents’ daytime dysfunction, researchers utilized a sub-component of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI).

Nanit CEO Sarah Dorsett says, “These findings are just the beginning. With the advancement of Nanit’s computer vision technology and its consumer adoption in the home, we’re able to better bolster our understanding of sleep health, and the effect it has on our quality of life.”

In another collaborative study, Flinders University and Nanit also provide objective evidence demonstrating the link between parental involvement and deficient infant sleep, finding that parental night-time visits were more frequent for younger infants, as well as for infants with poorer sleep quality.

“This collaboration with Nanit is exciting,” says Michal Kahn, PhD, a co-author on the study and a post-doctoral fellow at Flinders University. “We have so many questions that can now be answered by leveraging their technology and we’re looking forward to doing many more innovative projects together.”