Researchers at Penn State, after studying the sleep habits of children from aged 5 to 9 found out that when mothers have tight work schedules or less flexibility at work, their children get less sleep. When their work schedules had more flexibility, kids got more sleep. Although it seems obvious that working moms may have troubles getting a good night’s sleep, no one would think that working tight hours can also impair their kids’ sleep.
However, after further research was carried out scientists have found that working tight schedules impairs children’s sleep only in those who don’t have a regular bedtime routine. Having a consistent bedtime routine may solve this problem.
Orfeu Buxton, professor of bio behavioral health at Penn State says that the results of the study suggest that this problem emerges due to inconsistent bedtime routine. We definitely know that bedtime routines and promoting healthy sleeping habits is very important for positive child growth and healthy sleep, so if a quality bedtime routine is missing, sleep will probably suffer too. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies. Researchers who carried out the study also suggested that creating policies that give employees more flexibility would be very helpful for the health both of the employed mothers and their kids.
Soomi Lee, one of the researchers who carried out the study and currently an assistant professor at University of South Florida, suggest employers begin by considering how to change both the structural and cultural practices that may impair work flexibility. Taking measures such as flextime, telecommuting, or job-sharing with another employee would be very helpful for increasing working mothers and employees’ flexibility.
Helping your kid to develop a regular bedtime routine is vital for their long-term growth and development. The study was carried out by analyzing data gathered from 1,040 mothers and their children. In the study, only children aged from 5 to 9 were considered. Each mother was also asked if their child has a regular bedtime routine, how many hours their child usually slept, and if it has any sleep problems. After analyzing the data, the researchers found that poor workplace flexibility was associated with shorter sleep time in children. An increase in workplace flexibility was linked with kids sticking to their sleep routines better and having almost 50% less chance to experience sleep troubles.
In order to solve this problem, researchers and clinicians suggest speaking with working mothers about how to improve their children’s bedtime routines. Further research aims to identify other factors linking to mother’s and father’s work hours and child sleep, how to promote healthy sleep habits from childhood, and how to decrease future sleep health imbalances.
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Co-founder of Counting Sheep and Sleepaholic