Living with Kids Makes Women More Sleep-Deprived Than Men

Mother resting with sleeping babyWomen who live with children are often sleep-deprived, but living with kids may not affect men’s sleep, according to a study that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in April. Sleep-deprived women polled for the study reported not sleeping enough hours at night and often feeling tired during the day.

Life with Children: Sleep Deprivation for Women?

The study looked at data from a nationwide phone survey of 5,805 people. Respondents answered questions about their sleep habits, how frequently they felt tired, their body mass index, employment status, history of snoring, and whether they lived with children. They also answered demographic questions about age, race, education, income, marital status, and similar data.

Among the 2,908 women 45 and younger, the most important predictor of sleep was whether a woman lived with children. Researchers defined inadequate sleep as less than seven hours per night. Every child a woman lived with increased the odds of inadequate sleep by almost 50%. Less than half (48%) of women who lived with children reported at least seven hours of sleep each night, compared to 62% without children.

Factors such as exercise, marital status, and education did not affect women’s nightly sleep. Women with children were also more likely to feel tired during the day, reporting an average 14 days of monthly tiredness. Women without children reported 11 days of tiredness each month.

The study found no such relationship between sleep and living with children for men. The study supports what many women already know—that the burdens of childcare, especially throughout the night, often fall disproportionately to women. Even when men and women both work outside the home, numerous studies have found women continue to do more childcare. According to data from the American Time Use Survey, even men who do not work outside the home do less housework and caregiving than women.

Mental Health Concerns for Sleep-Deprived Parents

Research consistently shows parents get less sleep than people without children. A 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found single mothers are more sleep-deprived than any other group. About 44% of single moms sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours a night. About 38% of single fathers sleep less than seven hours. Sleep deprivation can lead to many mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, and stress.

References:

  1. Holland, K. (2015, April 28). Who’s winning the chore wars among working parents? Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/2015/04/28/me-is-like-leave-it-to-beaver.html
  2. Kaplan, K. (2016, January 5). Single moms are the most sleep-deprived people in America, report says. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-single-moms-most-sleep-deprived-20160105-story.html
  3. Living with children may mean less sleep for women, but not for men. (2017, February 26). Retrieved from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/aaon-lwc022117.php
  4. Marcotte, A. (2015, January 06). Even when they don’t have jobs, men do less housework than women. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2015/01/06/gender_and_housework_even_men_who_don_t_work_do_less_than_women.html

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  • Ruthie

    Ruthie

    February 28th, 2017 at 2:39 PM

    I guess I hit the lucky jackpot with my husband then, because we have always shared all of the child rearing duties, and even when I was still nursing, if I had pumped then he would often get up and do middle of the night feedings. That’s just how w work, as a team, and so I am not sure that I can even grasp a home when a women would have to put in so much more work than they other partner.
    That’s just not the way that my home operates I guess.

  • BethAnn

    BethAnn

    March 5th, 2017 at 8:04 AM

    The reality is that women are far more likely to lose sleep in a house fullof children because for some reason we are just more in tune with hearing our children in the middle of the night than most men are.

    Maybe something genetic or instinctual that keeps us a little more tuned in?

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