Young children in India obtain less overall sleep, have later bedtimes, and are more likely to room-share than their Caucasian counterparts, according to a new study.
The study, which compared the sleep patterns of children in predominantly Caucasian countries with kids in predominantly Asian countries, suggests substantial differences in sleep patterns in young children throughout the world.
The study, authored by Jodi Mindell, PhD, of Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, focused on 28287 infants and toddlers, whose parents completed an expanded version of the Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire.
Of the subjects, 3892 were from India, 4,505 from the United States, 800 from the United Kingdom, 1,073 from Australia, 1,081 from New Zealand, 501 from Canada, 1,049 from Hong Kong, 1,036 from Korea, 896 from Taiwan, 988 from Thailand, 967 from Indonesia, 872 from Japan, 7,505 from China, 997 from Malaysia, 1034 from Philippines, and 1001 from Singapore.
According to the results, significant variability in bedtimes and total sleep time were found. Room-sharing ranged from 15.1 percent in Canada to 94.5 percent in Thailand.
There was also a wide-range in the percentage of parents who perceived that their child had a small or severe sleep problem (11 percent in Thailand to 76 percent in China).
Overall, children from India and other Asian countries had significantly later bedtimes, shorter total sleep times, increased parental conception of sleep problems, and were more likely to room share than children from predominantly Caucasian countries.
On the other hand, there were limited differences with no clinical significance in night wakings and naps.
"This study is the first one to ever look at sleep in infants and toddlers cross-culturally, and the results are astonishing," said Dr. Mindell.
"We found vast differences in amounts of sleep and parents' perceptions of sleep problems across countries. These results raise more questions than provide answers.
"For example, 'Are these differences simply the result of differing cultural practices"' and 'What is the impact, if any, of these vast differences,'" she added.
The study was presented at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).