This spring, the Journal of Family Psychology accepted Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology Jack Peltz’s article exploring the relationships between toddlers’ sleep problems and the functions of the larger family unit.
In “Reciprocal Influences among Family Processes and Toddlers’ Sleep Problems,” Peltz and his colleagues found “bidirectional” relationships between children’s sleep problems and parents’ relationship satisfaction, coparental cooperation, and global family functioning.
“Our findings suggest that when toddlers were experiencing more difficulty getting to sleep and sleeping well during the night, mothers tended to report declines in relationship satisfaction with their romantic partner and declines in the level of cooperation with this partner when it came to taking care of the child,” Peltz says. “In turn, according to mothers, lower levels of relationship satisfaction and coparental cooperation predicted increases in toddlers’ sleep problems. These findings were particularly robust in families in which one partner (typically the mother) was responsible for the bedtime routine.”
These results seem to suggest “a consistent pattern of relations between toddlers’ sleep problems and different aspects of family functioning,” Peltz continues. “And, most importantly, the relations go both ways. Toddlers’ sleep problems can determine how parents interact both as parenting and romantic partners. And, the parents’ relationship functioning can also negatively impact toddlers’ sleep.”
He notes the study is unique in that it assesses different aspects of the family and offers a more vivid portrayal of the role of toddlers’ sleep within the larger, interdependent family system.
“Ideally, when we examine toddlers’ sleep problems, we’ll take more of a global view of the child’s environment,” Peltz says.
Another of Peltz’s articles — examining sleep-related predictors of depressive symptoms in college students — was recently accepted for the Summer 2016 issue of Sleep Health.
Peltz, who joined the faculty in 2013, earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Rochester, his M.A. in child development from Tufts University and his B.A. in Japanese from Middlebury College. He recently received a grant from the National Sleep Foundation to examine influences on insufficient sleep in high school students. He is currently recruiting for Project R.E.S.T., which seeks to understand various influences of sleep disturbance in adolescents. For more information about the study, or to find out how to participate, contact Peltz at firstname.lastname@example.org.