Research shows that having children means less sleep for Mum, but not for Dad!

A study by the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health found that women with children on average get a worse night’s sleep than women without. While this is hardly surprising, the same piece of research also revealed that the same can’t be said for men.

The college analysed data they gathered by conducting a nationwide telephone survey, involving almost 6,000 male and female participants. These respondents were asked to give information on how long they slept each night, as well as how many days they had spent feeling tired over the last month.

The questions also touched on other lifestyle factors, like age, exercise habits, marital status, income, and education. They also asked participants whether they had children, and if so how many. Very little information on the children was accessible.

And what did they find?

It will come as no surprise to most mothers that on average they are getting less sleep than women who don’t have any children. However, results also found that men slept just as well with or without children.

62% of women without children reported at least seven hours of sleep per night

This compares to just 48% of women with young children. The study categorised seven to nine hours as a healthy amount of sleep, meaning less than half of mothers are getting a good night’s rest.

They also found that women with young children were tired for fourteen days out of the last month, compared to women without children, who felt tired eleven days of the month.

And because of the wide spectrum of ages, occupations, marital statuses and lifestyles among the female participants, whether or not they had children was the only factor found to categorize respondents together. They found that, with every new child, odds of suffering from insufficient sleep increase by 50%.

Mothers with children younger than three were found to have less sleep than women with children between the ages of three and six. These results showed that of all the participants, mothers with more than one child under three years old suffered the worst quality of sleep.

Children had absolutely no impact on men and their sleep

Unlike women, the study found absolutely no correlation between the average number of hours men slept and whether or not they had children.

Because of the limited amount of information available to the college, they couldn’t conclude why this was the result, or how men managed to squeeze in a full night’s sleep around fatherhood.

Interestingly, however, the study did show that among men who were 45 or younger, having less than a high school level education was linked to a worse quality of rest.  They also concluded that, with or without children in the home, men tended to have less sleep overall than the study’s female participants.

What can be done to help everyone sleep better?

In conclusion of their findings, the college urged parents to come up with a more even system when it comes to childcare, designating tasks and creating a schedule to ensure everybody gets a good night’s sleep – or at least did not suffer from prolonged sleep deprivation, night after night.


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