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Sleep onset association disorder (SOAD) is a form of behavioral insomnia observed in children that is caused by inappropriate sleep training. SOAD typically disturbs the sleep of not only infants and children but also their parents. We investigated levels of depression and marital intimacy among parents of infants with typical SOAD, to understand the influence of SOAD on family dynamics, as well as examine ways for improving depression and marital intimacy through behavioral training. Depression and marital intimacy were assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Waring Intimacy Questionnaire (WIQ). These measures were administered to 65 parents of infants (n=50) diagnosed with SOAD. We conducted sleep education and behavioral training for the parents and compared levels of depression and marital intimacy after 2-6 weeks of training. The 65 parents consisted of 50 mothers and 15 fathers. Depressive symptoms were higher among mothers than fathers (P =0.007). Marital intimacy was negatively correlated with depressive symptoms. Twenty-six parents were assessed again after sleep training. We found that mothers' depressive symptoms and marital intimacy improved post training. SOAD can be detrimental to both infants and parents, especially for parents who sleep with their infants. For instance, disruption of sleep patterns in such parents can reduce marital intimacy. However, behavioral modification is an effective treatment for infants with frequent nighttime waking, as well as for diminishing the depressive symptoms of sleep-deprived parents.


Sihyoung Lee, Seonkyeong Rhie, Kyu Young Chae. Depression and marital intimacy level in parents of infants with sleep onset association disorder: a preliminary study on the effect of sleep education. Korean journal of pediatrics. 2013 May;56(5):211-7

PMID: 23741235

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