June 08, 2017
2 min read

Information from DVD bests other methods in helping young children sleep

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Children whose parents used an informational DVD to identify ways to help their children had better sleep results than children whose parents used a website with bedtime tips or no intervention methods, according to findings presented at Sleep 2017, the Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

“The problem is not everybody has access to a sleep doctor or a provider who can quickly give all the guidance necessary,” Mark L. Splaingard, MD, director, Sleep Disorder Center, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, told Healio Family Medicine in an interview. “Since 20% to 25% of young children may have trouble sleeping, there is a demand for help. Hundreds of books, internet sites and ‘experts’ give advice on ways to help infants and toddlers sleep at night but there are limited data comparing what method of instruction actually works best. Because parents are looking for fast and reliable ways to improve their infant and child’s sleep, we got involved in this research.”

Mark Splaingard
Mark L. Splaingard

“What we were interested in finding is how much improvement in sleeping infants and toddlers 6 months to 3 years old would make in 4 weeks, if parents were given access to either an Internet site or DVD giving instructions on ways to help their child sleep better. We wanted to determine which method was preferred and seemed to work best,” he added.

Splaingard and colleagues randomly assigned 239 families into one of three study arms: a DVD intervention condition (the Sleep Easy Solution), a website comparison condition (, and no intervention at all (also known as the watchful waiting group).

Researchers stated that one parent from each family was asked to complete the Extended Brief Infant Questionnaire at baseline and at 1-month follow-up. A trichotomous variable — ‘Do you consider your child’s sleep a problem?’ (Possible answers were not a problem at all, a small problem, a very serious problem) — was the primary outcome.

Researchers found that for the primary outcome, the DVD was superior to the watchful waiting group (P = .03). The website was not superior to watchful waiting group on the primary outcome (P = .21). Researchers also found that regarding secondary outcomes, the DVD was superior to the watchful waiting group in terms of longer continuous sleep periods (P = .003), more favorable perceptions of the child’s overall sleep (P = .001), and higher parental confidence in managing the child’s sleep (P = .001).

“The findings and parent feedback we received suggest that video features enhanced learning of good sleep strategies. While enough information was available to help many children sleep better, future improvements still need to be made. Improving websites with additional video content and the addition of limited online interaction with sleep specialists for questions and clarifications would seem to be logical and promising next steps for improving self-administered behavioral treatment for pediatric insomnia,” Splaingard said. – by Janel Miller

Reference: Stevens J, et al. “A randomized trial of a self-administered parenting intervention for infant and toddler insomnia.” Sleep 2017, the Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies; June 3-7; Boston.

Disclosure: The researchers report that they were not involved in neither the website nor DVD’s creation used in this study, and that the creators of these media had no role in the study’s design, implementation, interpretation or funding.