Penn State Logo Parents usually whine that their babies don’t sleep, but are they in someway responsible for it? According to a study conducted by Penn State scientists, warring parents may cause adopted infants to lose sleep.

The team found out that incorrect sleep patterns among children in the age-group 9 to 18 are apparently affected by parents engaging in conflicts.

“We know that marital problems have an impact on child functioning, and we know that sleep is a big problem for parents,” remarked Jenae M. Neiderhiser, professor of psychology, Penn State.

Though initial studies have put forth a similar hypothesis that parental problems influence child sleep, this analysis specifically looks at adopted infants. Since the focus was on adopted children, the scientists gauged ambient factors other than hereditary variables. Infancy is known to be that phase where sleep patterns get adjusted.

According to Neiderhiser, though marital problems do not result in parent to child communication they are a source of stress in the family. As part of the study, 357 groups of adoptive parents were interviewed individually and together. Their own habits and the child’s actions were measured. They were questioned firstly when the kid was 9 months old with a follow-up at 18 months.

They were asked about their divorce plans and the toddler’s behavior during night. They were also asked to shed light if the child has problem sleeping alone and needs a parent to be there at bedtime or finds it difficult to sleep. It came to fore that parental trouble during the 9 months survey is likely to cause sleep disturbances while the child is 18 months old. However, if the child had sleep problems during 9 months, it didn’t seem to imply that parents faced marital issues at 18 months. The lead author concluded that marital hiccups may be impactful on the child’s sleep. This would presumably expose the child to a disorganized sequence of sleep.

The study is published in the current issue of the journal child development.