Attachment representations, sleep quality and adaptive functioning in preschool age children

Brian E. Vaughn, Mona El-Sheikh, Nana Shin, Lori Elmore-Staton, Lisa Krzysik, Ligia Monteiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Both the attachment system and sleep are considered to be important biopsychosocial regulators of development and of adaptive functioning in children, and there is a substantial literature suggesting that the two systems may be mutually influencing. To date, however, the bulk of research attempting to link these systems has focused on infancy and the results of empirical studies are mixed. Thirty-nine preschool children participated in this study (valid sleep data for 34 cases). Attachment representations were assessed using the Attachment Story Completion Task (ASCT) and sleep was assessed using objective (i.e., actigraphy) measures. Analyses revealed that the coherence of child narratives and security scored from the ASCT were related to sleep quality indices (e.g., Sleep Activity, Wake Minutes after Sleep Onset, Sleep Efficiency). Additional analyses examined external correlates of attachment representations and tested possible interactions of attachment and sleep. No significant mediated interactions across attachment and sleep domains were found. Although the direction of effects cannot be determined, the results suggest that parent-child relationship and sleep organization are intertwined for preschool age children and the joint effects of these biopsychosocial regulators should be studied further.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-540
Number of pages16
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research has been supported in part by National Science Foundation grants: BCS 06– 23019, BCS 08–43919, BCS 0843185, and by an Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station/ Lindsey Foundation grant ALA080–049. The authors thank the Directors, teachers, and parents from the Harris Early Learning Center in Birmingham, AL, for their support and cooperation with this research program and Bridget Wingo for her assistance with actigraphy.


  • attachment security
  • preschool children
  • sleep duration
  • sleep quality


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