Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Katherine Karraker.


There are individual differences in 9-month-old infants' night awakening behavior. Some infants are able to soothe themselves back to sleep however; others are unable to fall back asleep without parental intervention. Attending to a waking infant frequently during the night may cause problems for parents due to the effects of sleep deprivation. In particular, mothers of infants who are sleep deprived as a result of their infants' frequent night awakenings have been found to experience deficits in mood and perceptions of their infants. Given that there are individual differences in night awakening behavior the present study sought to determine: (1) whether infant characteristics were associated with night awakening and (2) whether variations in infant night awakening were related to infant behavior and maternal characteristics and behaviors. Specific factors were found to be related to infant night awakening in 9-month-olds. Care-giving factors such as feeding method, method used to put the infant to sleep, and co-sleeping practices were all related to infant night awakening. Individual difference factors were also associated with infant night awakening. Infants who experienced separation anxiety, were dysregulated, napped more, and cried more experienced more night awakening than infants who did not have these characteristics. No individual difference factors in the mother were related to maternal perceptions of and expectations for the infant. However, variations in infant night awakening were related to individual differences in maternal characteristics. Mothers whose infants awakened more frequently during the night reported experiencing more sleep deprivation, more depressive symptoms, and lower levels of optimism. These findings can be used to guide future research, which could utilize experimental methods to ascertain whether infant night awakening can be reduced or eliminated by manipulating environmental conditions. If night awakening is reduced through these experimental methods then the difficulties associated with maternal sleep deprivation, such as deficits in mood and optimism, could also be alleviated.