Journal of Pediatric Psychology
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Objective The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to disrupt the lives of families and may have implications for children with existing sleep problems. As such, we aimed to: (1) characterize sleep changes during the COVID-19 pandemic in children who had previously been identified as having sleep problems, (2) identify factors contributing to sleep changes due to COVID-19 safety measures, and (3) understand parents and children s needs to support sleep during the pandemic. Methods Eighty-five Canadian parents with children aged 4 14 years participated in this explanatory sequential, mixed-methods study using an online survey of children s and parents sleep, with a subset of 16 parents, selected based on changes in their children s sleep, participating in semi-structured interviews. Families had previously participated in the Better Nights, Better Days (BNBD) randomized controlled trial. Results While some parents perceived their child s sleep quality improved during the COVID-19 pandemic (14.1%, n 12), many parents perceived their child s sleep had worsened (40.0%, n 34). Parents attributed children s worsened sleep to increased screen time, anxiety, and decreased exercise. Findings from semi-structured interviews highlighted the effect of disrupted routines on sleep and stress, and that stress reciprocally influenced children s and parents sleep. Conclusions The sleep of many Canadian children was affected by the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the disruption of routines influencing children s sleep. eHealth interventions, such as BNBD with modifications that address the COVID-19 context, could help families address these challenges.