Sleep of Mothers, Babies and Children


Study of perinatal health providers in New Zealand


If you support hauora wāhine, women's health and well-being during pregnancy and/or the postpartum we warmly invite you to complete a survey. 

 The survey questions ask about sleep related information, services and interventions currently available to New Zealand women.  We would very much appreciate you completing this survey whether or not you offer sleep information, services or interventions.


Please click on this link to start: Perinatal Health & Wellbeing Survey


The survey has 10 questions and should take no more than 5-10 minutes to complete.  Your participation in the survey is voluntary and your responses will be kept completely confidential.  You have the right to withdraw at any point. 


We would also be grateful if you could share the survey link with other people or colleagues that offer services or support to women in the perinatal period (you can forward this email or share this link: 


This work has been funded by a Health Research Council of New Zealand, Health Delivery Activation Grant.  The findings will be used in future research on how to best support sleep, circadian and mental health during the perinatal period. The study is conducted by a team of researchers with expertise in maternal sleep and maternal mental health (Professor Leigh Signal, Dr Bronwyn Sweeney, Clare Ladyman, Dr Tanya Wright, Dr Mark Huthwaite, Associate Professor Katie Sharkey, Dr Bei Bei and Professor Jane Fisher), Māori health (Professor Chris Cunningham and Hannah Mooney) and Pacific health (Dr Riz Firestone) and in collaboration with Te Hiringa Hauora/Health Promotion Agency and Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Aotearoa. 


If you would like to contact the Principal Investigator in the study to discuss this research, please email Professor Leigh Signal, Sleep/Wake Research Centre, Massey University (Wellington) at



E Moe, Māmā

Maternal Sleep and Health in Aotearoa/New Zealand

This project investigated: 1) how sleep in late pregnancy might affect a woman’s birth experience and 2) the relationship between sleep across the perinatal period and symptoms of depression and anxiety. The study recruited 766 non-Māori women and 423 Māori women and was guided by key principles from Kaupapa Māori research philosophy. These include Māori participation and control at all stages of the research; appropriate collection of ethnicity data; and statistical methods that seek to allow for possible explanations of any differences in findings between Māori and non-Māori women in the study.

Many of the women in the E Moe, Māmā study have stayed with us and are now a part of the Moe Kura cohort which is following these families as the children grow.

Funding: Health Research Council

Collaborators: Dr Mark Huthwaite, Department of Psychological Medicine, Otago University; Professor Kathy Lee, University of California San Francisco


The PIPIS Study ~ Parent Information on Parent and Infant Sleep

This study trialled a sleep education programme with pregnant, first-time mothers aimed at promoting their sleep (and their infant’s sleep) in the first six-weeks after birth. Two groups of 20 women and their babies had their sleep monitored using an “actiwatch” when the babies were 6 and 12 weeks old. The control group attended an antenatal class where they were briefed on the protocol for monitoring their sleep for two 48-hour periods. The intervention group attended an antenatal class which also included education about their own sleep, normal infant sleep development and strategies to help improve their own and their infant’s sleep in the early weeks. In addition, intervention group sleep were contacted each week for the first 6 weeks to offer them sleep support. Women in the intervention group felt more confident about managing their own and their baby’s sleepand their total sleep at night increased significantly from 6 to 12 weeks postpartum (on average, 46 minutes per night). In contrast, nocturnal sleep for control group women did not increase significantly. The aim mow is to make this programme available to all new mothers in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Funding: Health Research Council

Collaborators: Dr Duncan Babbage, School of Psychology, Massey University.


Moe Kura

Mother and Child, Sleep and Health, Aotearoa/New Zealand

Women who participated in the E Moe, Māmā study, and the child they were pregnant with at the time, were invited to participate in an ongoing programme of research, the Moe Kura project. This focuses on mother and child sleep, exploring the factors that affect it and how sleep impacts mother and child health and wellbeing.

Data has been collected from 295 Māori women and 618 non-Māori women when their E Moe, Māmā child reached 3 years of age. This information is presently being used by Dee Muller and Clare Ladyman as part of their doctoral research.

Dee’s project is focused on the social determinants of preschool children’s sleep in Aotearoa/New Zealand and will investigate whether the ethnic and socioeconomic disparities evident for adults’ sleep in Aotearoa/New Zealand also exist for young children. Dee is a Massey University Doctoral Scholar and recipient of a new New Zealand Massey Foundation grant. Her thesis is planned for completion in 2018.

Clare’s doctoral research is looking at maternal sleep and mental health data from the E Moe Mama and Moe Kura studies to determine if women experiencing depressive symptoms or sleep disruptions in pregnancy are more or less likely to experience persistent poor sleep or persistent depressive symptoms three years post birth. It also includes the Sleep HAPi project which is examining if a sleep education program in pregnancy has an effect on depressive symptoms in women who have a prior history of depression.

Women having their first baby, who are less than 13 weeks pregnant, and who have a prior history of depression are currently being recruited.


Sleep of Infants

This project investigated the prevalence of parental-reported sleep problems amongst 52 healthy one-year olds. Objective and subjective sleep data, as well as demographic, health, and developmental factors to examine factors associated with reporting a sleep problem and to investigate physical and developmental outcomes of sleep problems in infancy.

A third (35%) of infants were considered by their parents to have a sleep problem. They had poorer sleep confirmed by actigraphic monitoring, were more likely to still be breastfed, and had poorer rated bedtime mood compared to “good sleepers”. Measures of sleep duration and efficiency were significantly related to stages of motor and cognitive development as well as age.

Collaborator: Professor Dawn Elder, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Otago.

back to top