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Free Content Development of infant and toddler sleep patterns: real‐world data from a mobile application

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The aim of this study was to investigate the development of infant and toddler sleep patterns. Data were collected on 841 children (aged from birth to 36 months) via a free, publicly available, commercially sponsored iPhone app. Analyses were conducted on caregiver recordings of 156 989 sleep sessions across a 19‐month period. Detailed visualizations of the development of sleep across the first 3 years of life are presented. In the first 3 months, sleep sessions primarily lasted less than 3.5 h throughout the day. Between 3 and 7 months old, sleep consolidated into two naps of about 1.5 h in length and a night‐time sleep session of about 10.5 h. Across age groups, a negative relationship was observed between the start of bedtime and the length of the night‐time sleep session (i.e. later bedtime is associated with a shorter night‐time sleep period). The length of daytime sleep sessions (naps) varied with age, decreasing between 1 and 5 months old, and then increasing monotonically through 28 months. Morning wake time was observed to be invariant in children aged 5–36 months. Sleep patterns are ever‐changing across the first few years with wide individual variability. Sleep patterns start to develop more clearly at 5–6 months, when longer night‐time sleep duration begins and sleep consolidation occurs. Daytime sleep patterns appeared to become more consistent and consolidated later in age than night‐time sleep. Finally, there is greater variability in bedtimes than wake times, with bedtimes having a greater influence on night‐time sleep duration.
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Keywords: child development; circadian patterns; internet; parents

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2016

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