The link between maternal sleep and permissive parenting during late adolescence

Kelly M. Tu, Lori Elmore-Staton, Joseph A. Buckhalt, Mona El-Sheikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Utilizing a multi-method design, the present study examined the association between maternal sleep, assessed via actigraphy and self-reports, and permissive parenting (e.g. lax, inconsistent discipline) during adolescence, as well as the extent to which this association differed by mothers’ race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. The sample was comprised of 234 mothers (M age = 41.76 years, SD = 6.25; 67% European-American, 31% African-American, 2% other race/ethnicities) and 237 adolescents (113 boys, 124 girls; M age = 15.80 years, SD = 0.80; 66% European-American, 34% African-American). Mothers’ sleep duration (actual sleep minutes) and quality (sleep efficiency, latency, long wake episodes) were assessed using actigraphy. Mothers also reported on their sleep problems and adolescents reported on mothers’ permissive parenting behaviours. Results revealed that actigraphy-based longer sleep duration and shorter sleep latency were associated with lower levels of permissive parenting. Further, mothers’ race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status moderated the association between actigraphy-based sleep quality (i.e. sleep efficiency, long wake episodes) and permissive parenting. Specifically, a negative association between sleep efficiency and permissive parenting was evident only for African-American mothers. In addition, a positive association between more frequent night wakings and permissive parenting was evident only for mothers from lower socioeconomic status households. The findings highlight the benefits of longer and higher-quality sleep for reducing the risk of permissive parenting, especially among ethnic minority mothers and mothers from lower socioeconomic status households.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12676
JournalJournal of Sleep Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • actigraphy
  • minority
  • parenting
  • sleep duration
  • sleep quality
  • socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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