Characterising the Relationship between Maternal Sleep, Child Daytime Behaviour and Physical and Mental Wellbeing in Mothers of School-Aged Children with and without a Diagnosis of Autism
Objectives: This study aims to characterise the relationship between maternal sleep, chid daytime behaviour and physical and mental wellbeing in mothers of school-aged children with and without a diagnosis of Autism.
Methods: A cross-sectional, mixed design was employed. 40 mothers completed a number of psychometric self-reports, a questionnaire on autism severity and child daytime behaviours as well as a a 7-day sleep diary.
Results: A self-selected sample of 20 mothers raising a child with a diagnosis of autism and 20 mothers of typically developing children were recruited from various community settings and charities in the UK. Mothers with a child with an autism diagnosis reported poorer sleep (M= 9.00), higher parenting stress, (M= 95.30) lower physical quality of life (M= 47.19) and emotional quality of life (M= 40.30) than mothers of typically developing children. Maternal stress (p = .014) and emotional quality of life (p = .005) were significant predictors of child behaviour problem in mothers of children with autism.
Conclusions: This is one of the very few studies aiming to characterise the relationship between sleep and wellbeing in the life of mothers with a child with autism. Implications of this research shed light in areas that healthcare practitioners should consider the effects of sleep in all family members when looking for interventions targeting quality of life. Further research should employ non-invasive objective sleep measures such as actigraphy along with interviews to gain better insights into their sleep patterns and hygiene and verify links with physical, mental health and overall quality of life.