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Sleep Deprivation Found More Among Women With Children in the Household

Sleep Deprivation Found More Among Women With Children in the Household

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  • A research team from George Southern University has found that women with children living in the household are sleep deprived, unlike men
  • The study found that only 48% of women who lived with children in the house got 7 hours of sleep, compared to 62% among women who did not live with children
  • Women with children in the house felt tired on 14 days when compared to 11 days among women without children in the house

Women may have known this all along, but a new study by a research team from Georgia Southern University has shown that they are sleep deprived. When there are children in the house, women are affected by lack of sleep, unlike in men. The results of this study were presented in the American Academy of Neurology's 69th Annual Meeting to be held in Boston in April 2017.

Senior author of the study, Dr. Kelly Sullivan said that the study findings could help support women who claim to be exhausted. A member of the American Academy of Neurology, Dr. Kelly further said that women with children at home not only had fewer hours of sleep but they also said that they were feeling tired throughout the day.


Understanding Sleep Patterns

The study involved analyzing data from a telephone survey that was conducted on 5,805 people. The participants were asked
  • How long they slept- It was considered to be optimum if the participants slept for 7 to 9 hours and insufficient if they slept for less than 6 hours.
  • How many days they felt tired during the previous month.
The other factors that the research team looked at were the age of the mothers, their race, marital status, the number of children in the house, education levels, exercise levels, whether working or employed. The research team also asked the study participants if they snored at night, to understand if that was the reason behind insufficient sleep.

Among the study participants, there were 2,908 women who were 45 years old or younger. The study findings showed that
  • The only factor associated with insufficient sleep was the presence of children in the house
  • There was a 50% increase in the odds of insufficient sleep with every child in the house
  • In the same group of women, who were under 45 years of age
  • 48 % of women with children had seven hours of sleep which was significantly less when compared with women without children (62%)
  • Younger women who had children in the house reported to feeling tired 14 days in a month when compared to women with no children in the house who felt tired 11 days in a month.
The study found that the presence of children in the house did not alter sleep duration for men. Dr. Sullivan reiterated that adequate sleep is vital for maintaining good health and it affected the functioning of heart, weight and the mind.

Sleep Patterns in Postpartum Women

In a study conducted by Dr. Ashleigh J. Filtness and colleagues from the Queensland University and published in the journal PLOS, the sleep patterns of postpartum women were detailed. The study found that new mothers were deprived of sleep due to constant feeding and variations in the sleep pattern of their new born. Similar results were found in a study conducted on American women. The significance of these studies point towards the necessity to ensure that mothers slept for adequately long hours. This is because, sleep deprived women may not be able to carry out critical tasks during the day, endangering their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

Adequate sleep is also important for the health of the women, both physical as well as for emotional health. The lack of sleep among new mothers is well known, with the period associated with feelings of intense sleep deprivation, being shell shocked, consecutive days when REM state of sleep is constantly interrupted, resulting in a 'zombie like state'. The extreme sleep deprivation will affect the ability of women to think clearly, stressing the need for adequate support which will ensure that new mothers get the rest they need.

The Need to Address Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation can lead to long-term health effects for the new mother and there is a need to bring in appropriate legislations which would allow the mother to take adequate rest. This includes maternity leave, which in certain countries is as low as 3 months, including the U.S.

In Canada, maternity leave extends for a period of one year, during which time the mother receives her complete pay. Such policies would ensure that the new mother bonds with her new born and will also work related stress, making way for better sleep patterns.

The day time sleepiness experienced by mothers with children in the house can increase the risk for accidents. The need to lower the amount of day time sleepiness, before the mother resumes work is essential. The right support will not only ensure better health of the mother but will also boost productivity once she returns to work.

Increasing Awareness

Most new mothers are unaware by the shift in the sleeping pattern that they would experience soon after the birth of their infant. Most infants take about 12 weeks to settle into a normal circadian rhythm, though the maximum period of sleep time is 3.5 to 4 hours. Since mothers are the primary caregivers, they often bear the brunt of the work that is involved in getting the infant settled into a normal sleep pattern. Frequent feeding and tending to the needs of the child will mean fewer hours of sleep for the mother.

The current study highlights the reduced sleep time for women with children in the household when compared to women without children in the household. The men in the house, however, do not have a reduced duration of sleep. There is an increased need to create awareness among women about managing their daily chores and the crucial need to sleep for adequate period of time which will help them feel refreshed to face the next day with renewed energy.

References :
  1. Sleep study shows new moms are dangerously exhausted for months - (http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0103513)
  2. Longitudinal Change in Sleep and Daytime Sleepiness in Postpartum Women - (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/sleep-study-shows-new-moms-dangerously-exhausted-months/)

Source: Medindia

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