Journal article

Not simply a matter of parents—Infants’ sleep-wake patterns are associated with their regularity of eating


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  • 05.10.2023
Published in:
  • PLOS ONE / Nakamura, Takahiro J.. - Public Library of Science (PLoS). - 2023, vol. 18, no. 10, p. 1-15
English In adults there are indications that regular eating patterns are related to better sleep quality. During early development, sleep and eating habits experience major maturational transitions. Further, the bacterial landscape of the gut microbiota undergoes a rapid increase in complex- ity. Yet little is known about the association between sleep, eating patterns and the gut micro- biota. We first hypothesized that higher eating regularity is associated with more mature sleep patterns, and second, that this association is mediated by the maturational status of the gut microbiota. To test this hypothesis, we performed a longitudinal study in 162 infants to assess actigraphy, diaries of sleep and eating times, and stool microbiota composition at ages 3, 6 and 12 months. To comprehensively capture infants’ habitual sleep-wake patterns, 5 sleep composites that characterize infants’ sleep habits across multiple days in their home environ- ment were computed. To assess timing of eating habits, we developed an Eating Regularity Index (ERI). Gut microbial composition was assessed by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequenc- ing, and its maturation was assessed based on alpha diversity, bacterial maturation index, and enterotype. First, our results demonstrate that increased eating regularity (higher ERI) in infants is associated with less time spent awake during the night (sleep fragmentation) and more regular sleep patterns. Second, the associations of ERI with sleep evolve with age. Third, the link between infant sleep and ERI remains significant when controlling for parents’ subjectively rated importance of structuring their infant’s eating and sleeping times. Finally, the gut microbial maturational markers did not account for the link between infant’s sleep pat- terns and ERI. Thus, infants who eat more regularly have more mature sleep patterns, which is independent of the maturational status of their gut microbiota. Interventions targeting infant eating rhythm thus constitute a simple, ready-to-use anchor to improve sleep quality.
Faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines
Département de Psychologie
  • English
Open access status
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