- July 17, 2016
- Posted by: emobile
- Category: Researcher's Corner
Sleeplessness especially in the night is a major challenge many new parents face. According to a research published in the Pediatrics Journal the babies if left to cry themselves to sleep without the mothers waking to calm them to sleep may lead to a better night’s rest for all parties.
The research led by Micheal Gradisar and his team suggests a behavioral technique known as “graduated extinction” which involves letting a baby cry until they fall asleep which can lead to longer sleep duration for the child and their parents.The study results may come as a surprise to parents, who are likely to have become accustomed to waking from slumber in response to their infant’s persistent cries. This is why Gradisar remarked that “it’s natural for parents to worry about having their babies cry at bedtime”. “While it is well documented that sleep deprivation can cause family distress, including maternal depression, we are hoping these results will add another element to how parents view their responses and how they manage their own and their babies’ sleep behavior.
A randomized, controlled trial, which involved 43 infants aged 6-16 months and their parents was conducted by the researchers. All infants had been experiencing nighttime sleep problems from around the age of 6 months.
The parents of 14 of the infants were required to use the graduated extinction method for 12 months. Also known as the “Ferber method,” this technique involves ignoring a child’s cries, checking on them only at specific times with increasing intervals. The idea is to teach the child to accept that nobody will come to their aid when they cry, which will reduce their crying and improve their sleep.
The parents of 14 of the infants used a “gentler” technique called “bedtime fading” for 12 months. This involves gradually delaying a child’s bedtime each night. The idea is that this will make a child drowsier and more likely to fall asleep. The parents of the remaining 14 infants acted as controls and did not use any of the sleep behavior interventions.
The researchers found infants of parents who used the graduated extinction technique fell asleep an average of 13 minutes sooner each night than those in the control group, and they woke up less frequently during the night. On assessing levels of cortisol – the “stress hormone” – from saliva samples of infants, the team found that there were no significant differences in stress levels between the groups.
There were also no significant differences between the groups for parental stress and mood.
The authors note that many parents remain concerned about using the graduated extinction technique, but their study showed the method is not harmful; they found no significant differences between the groups for parent-child attachment or infant emotional and behavior.