Do family members sleep alike? Sleep features among mothers, fathers, and adolescents

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Objective: To identify within-family groups according to sleep schedule, problems, and impact, reflecting similarities or differences in adolescents, mothers, and fathers and to examine how mental health and attachments associate with these triadic sleep groups. Background: Family relationships shape sleeping, but within-family research in adolescence is scarce. Method: Adolescents (17–18 years; 60% girls; n = 438), mothers (n = 448), and fathers (n = 358) filled in the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. The adolescents reported mental health problems by the Behavior Assessment System and the parents by the General Health Questionnaire. All reported attachments by the Experiences in Close Relationships. Results: Cluster analysis identified four triadic sleep groups: “Good family sleep” (47%), “Poor adolescent and maternal sleep” (29%), “Poor paternal sleep” (16%), and “Poor family sleep” (8%). Adolescents in the “Poor family sleep” group had more mental health problems than they did in other groups, and fathers in the “Poor paternal sleep” group showed higher psychiatric symptoms than in the “Good family sleep” or “Poor adolescent and maternal sleep” groups. Adolescents in the “Poor family sleep” group reported higher insecure–anxious attachments than they did in other groups, and fathers reported higher insecure–avoidant and insecure–anxious attachments in the “Poor paternal sleep” than they did in other groups. Conclusion: A family systems approach provides new insight into sleep, mental health, and attachments. Implications: Interventions to improve sleep quality should consider family dynamics that may underlie potential sleep problems, and sleep as a public health issue can benefit from knowledge about family mental health and attachments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2103-2122
Issue number4
Early online date8 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • adolescence
  • attachment
  • family systems
  • mental health
  • sleep quality

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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