Friday, March 8, 2013

Parenting effects on sleep duration

A recently published study showed some interesting statistics about how parenthood affects sleep.

The study, conducted in Wisconsin USA, focused on how working parents sleep at different stages in their children’s lives. It’s no surprise that parents of young children (under age 2) lost the most sleep. What may be a bit surprising is the amount of sleep these parents lost, only an average of 13 minutes per day for each child under the age 2! Parents lost on average 9 minutes of sleep per day for each child aged 2-5 years.  Keep in mind that this is an average! Parents may lose an hour of sleep one night and lose no sleep for the next 3 nights. Based on the results of this study, the researchers report that raising a child from birth through age 18 results in a loss of about 645 hours of sleep.

Other outcomes noted were daytime sleepiness and dozing off during daytime activities. Both of these were more common in parents of children over age 2.

While this study may not seem to describe the very real sleep deprivation you may be feeling as a new parent, it does show how research and reality can differ at times! The limitation in this particular study is that the sleep duration was self-reported by the parents. The authors admit that sleep is often over estimated in these cases, so the amount of sleep lost per child may be under estimated in this study.

What do you think about the results of this study?



Hagen EW, Mirer AG, Palta M, Peppard PE. The Sleep-Time Cost of Parenting: Sleep Duration and Sleepiness Among Employed Parents in the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study. Am J Epidemiol 2013 Feb 1.


  1. Wow, that is super surprising. I wonder if they make any note of whether the amount of sleep was consecutive or not. When my baby was 0-3 months I was getting 6-8 hours of sleep total but I was up every 3-4 hours so I never felt rested!!

  2. I think some of the parents were too sleep deprived to remember exactly how much sleep they lost. Sometimes my partner asks me "how many times did you get up for the baby last night?" sometimes I can't remember... I do it so automatically that I can't recall.