When my brothers and I were teens and we were out late at night, whether we were hanging out with friends or working the closing shift at our jobs as restaurant servers, Mom wouldn’t go to sleep until we got home and checked in with her—while Dad was snoring away. This obviously affected how much quality sleep she got, and that's not even taking into account all the years prior with late-night feedings, diaper changes, teething, and more.
A mom staying up for her kids or getting up to tend to them is a pretty familiar picture in many households and on screen. So it perhaps might be unsurprising that a recent preliminary study is confirming what many of us already know: A good night’s sleep for women is affected by having children in the house—but not so much for men.
The research from the American Academy of Neurology and Georgia Southern University shows women who live in a house with children get less sleep than those who don’t, and having children in the house didn’t impact men’s sleep at all, according to data collected from 5,805 people via a nationwide telephone survey. Participants were asked how many hours they slept, how many days in the past month they felt tired, as well as questions about race, age, education, marital status, number of children in the household, income, employment, and exercise.
Other key findings from the study include:
- For women ages 45 and younger, the only factor associated with getting enough sleep was having children in the house.
- For women younger than 45, 48 percent with children reported getting at least seven hours of sleep, while 62 percent without children got the same amount of sleep.
- No other factors—exercise, marital status, education, race, employment—were linked to how long younger women slept.
- Younger women with children felt tired 14 days per month, on average, while those without children felt tired 11 days per month on average.
“I think these findings may bolster those women who say they feel exhausted. Our study found not only are they not sleeping long enough, they also report feeling tired throughout the day,” said study author Kelly Sullivan, Ph.D., of Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA, in a press release. “Getting enough sleep is a key component of overall health and can impact the heart, mind, and weight. It’s important to learn what is keeping people from getting the rest they need so we can help them work toward better health.”
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