Sleep in Brief

by Stacey

One of the more difficult challenges I’ve faced as a parent has been lack of sleep. I say this even though I know that the sleeping that goes on in my house is not that bad. Sage pretty much always sleeps through the night and Sasha, well he’s only six months old. Even so, because I need some time to myself after the kids go to bed at night, I routinely end up with about six to seven hours of sleep. Every once in a while that wouldn’t be so bad, but night after night it leaves me in the red.

Thankfully, the experts are on it. Or so I thought when I noticed that this month’s Journal of Family Psychology is devoted entirely to the topic of sleep.

The first study to catch my eye was called, “Contribution of Infants’ Sleep and Crying to Marital Relationship of First-Time Parent Couples in the 1st Year After Childbirth.” (Jeez, try saying that title out loud.) It found that poor infant sleep and crying, especially crying, had a negative impact on marital satisfaction over time. That’s a shocker. Problem solving in the marriage (such as, we have a problem, this baby won’t stop crying) went up if fathers participated in infant care. But then both parents had trouble sleeping.

Seems pretty obvious to me. But let’s move on. The next one was called: “Relationship Between Child Sleep Disturbances and Maternal Sleep, Mood, and Parenting Stress: A Pilot Study.” This according to the study abstract:

Although sleep disturbances in children are common, little is known about the relationship between children’s sleep disruptions and maternal sleep and daytime functioning.

Not true. I know a lot. If your kid is a crappy sleeper, chances are you are a miserable grump who shouldn’t be allowed to operate heavy machinery. But research must go on.

Forty-seven mothers completed measures of sleep, depression, parenting stress, fatigue, and sleepiness. Significant differences in maternal mood and parenting stress were found between mothers of children with and without significant sleep disturbances.

Well, yeah.

Regression analyses showed that the quality of the children’s sleep significantly predicted the quality of maternal sleep.

You need a regression analysis to tell you that? And finally the kicker.

In addition, maternal sleep quality was a significant predictor of maternal mood, stress, and fatigue.

I’m beginning to suspect that none of the people who did this research have actual children living and sleeping in their homes.

This last one had some interesting results. It’s called, “Child Sleep Disorders: Associations With Parental Sleep Duration and Daytime Sleepiness.” In this study 107 families with children who had sleep disorders were evaluated for daytime sleepiness. Families whose kids had more than one sleep disorder were more sleepy during the day. But what was interesting to me was this:

The pattern of results suggested more associations between maternal and child sleep than between paternal and child sleep. Within families, mothers reported significantly more daytime sleepiness than fathers, although there were no parental differences in sleep duration.

Why are mothers more tired than fathers even if they get the same amount of sleep? Interesting finding.

That’s all for my round-up. You can see abtracts for all of the studies by going here.



Filed under baby, family life, kids, marriage, parenting, psychology, relationships, sleep

4 responses to “Sleep in Brief

  1. hanmee

    My only possible guess is that, on the whole, moms are doing more than dads. Whether you both work outside the home or not, moms TEND to do a lot more household chores than dad, at least the ones that require daily or almost daily maintenance, and that gets tiring.

    I have the same problem. My husband has actually commented on the fact that I seem feel more tired.

  2. I think you’re probably right about that.

  3. dagmire

    yes moms are doing more,
    but i suspect the bigger thing here is that moms are moms.
    since having kids i have not had the same kind of heavy, thick, and dark blessed sleep i had before kids
    (maybe with an ambien, but i don’t want to go there right now). i think my friend marcia put it best when she said she felt as if she had developed bat ears. apparently bats have incredibly acute hearing. many tiny hairs in their ears which make them sensitive to the smallest of sounds. that is me. occasionally i wake up and within seconds i hear one of the girls stir, cry out, cough, make some kind of sound. all loads of fun at 4 in the morning.

  4. I definitely sleep lighter too, now that I have kids. And it’s that fractured sleep that leaves you feeling like you were up all night, even if you just woke up for a few minutes. So maybe that does help explain why moms are more tired. They count the same number of hours of sleep as their husbands, but the sleep quality isn’t as good.

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