More Children Means Increasingly Less Sleep For Mothers Interview with:

Kelly L. Sullivan, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Epidemiology Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health Georgia Southern University Statesboro, Georgia

Dr. Sullivan

Kelly L. Sullivan, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Epidemiology
Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health
Georgia Southern University
Statesboro, Georgia What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The original aim of this study was to determine which factors were associated with getting sufficient sleep in men and women. In this analysis, we considered many possible influences including BMI, age, race, education, marital status, exercise, employment status, and income in addition to having children in the household. The aim was to determine which factors were most strongly associated with insufficient sleep in men and women specifically in order to inform efforts to best address their sleep challenges.

In this study, we found that younger women with insufficient sleep time were more likely to have children in the household compared with women who reported sufficient sleep. Each child in the household was associated with a nearly 50% increase in a woman’s odds of insufficient sleep.

This finding held after controlling for the potential effects of age, exercise, employment status and marital status. Children in the household were also associated with the frequency of feeling unrested among younger women, but not among younger men. Women with children reported feeling tired about 25% more frequently compared to women without children in the household. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Sleep challenges are common, especially for women. We know from previous research that women are about twice as likely as men to report insomnia and women actually need more sleep than men in order to feel rested. Sleep needs and challenges differ, and the approach to address sleep challenges needs to be individualized. For some women, this approach will include enlisting the help of friends and family. For others, stress management techniques and exercise may help. Additionally, prioritizing healthy sleep is important and includes limiting caffeine intake, keeping the bedroom dark, and reducing exposure to bright screens such as cell phones and TVs close to bedtime. Women who are concerned about their sleep should also consider seeking the guidance of professionals such as therapists or physicians. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: This study was conducted using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a nation-wide telephone-administered survey. While the survey covers a variety of health topics and is a valuable resource to understand health patterns and understand where we need to focus health efforts, it does not provide data that directly inform us about reasons for insufficient sleep. Therefore, reasons behind the observed gender disparity in the association of children and sleep are beyond the scope of this study. There are many possible influences which will require insight from multiple disciplines and further research. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Inadequate sleep is an important risk factor for many health outcomes. It’s important to consider each individual’s situation and support the management of stressors in order to achieve optimal sleep and health.
I have no disclosures. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


upcoming AAN abstract discussing:
presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 69th Annual Meeting in Boston, April 22 to 28, 2017.

Living with children may mean less sleep for women, but not for men

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.
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