The association between sleep disturbances of children with anxiety disorders and those of their mothers

Bat Sheva Goldberger-Raskin, Doron Gothelf, Rachel Bachner-Melman, Claudia Lang, Jonathan Kushnir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Previous research has demonstrated a link between childhood anxiety and sleep problems, but little is known about the link between these difficulties and parental sleep disturbances. The purpose of the current study was to explore the association between anxious children's sleep difficulties and those of their mothers. Method: A total of 101 children aged 8–18 years and their mothers participated in this study. The clinical group included 66 children (mean age = 11.45 years, standard deviation = 2.79 years) diagnosed with anxiety disorders, and the control group included 35 age- and sex-matched normal healthy controls. Mothers completed questionnaires assessing their child's anxiety and sleep, as well as their own sleep. Children completed questionnaires assessing anxiety, sleep, depression, and obsessive symptoms. Results: Both children and mothers in the clinical group exhibited more sleep difficulties compared to controls. A regression analysis revealed that pre-sleep arousal negatively predicted children's sleep. Furthermore, children's anxiety level was associated with parental levels of sleep disturbances. This link was fully mediated by the children's sleep disturbances score. Conclusion: Mothers of children with anxiety disorders exhibit higher levels of sleep disturbances than controls. These difficulties are linked to children's anxiety and sleep problems. When treating children with anxiety, it is therefore important to assess their overall sleep disturbances, as well as parental sleep difficulties, and when appropriate to add a specific sleep intervention component.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-82
Number of pages6
JournalSleep Medicine
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Anxiety
  • Children
  • Parental sleep
  • Pre-sleep arousal
  • Sleep


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