A mom with a house full of kids will be the first to tell you that sleep is hard to come by. Now, though, this phenomenon has been grounded in science. Recent research shows now only that the gender sleep gap is real, but that kids are a huge factor in whether or not women are getting adequate sleep. The results didn't exactly pinpoint why it is that men manage to get so much more coveted shut-eye, but acknowledging that the discrepancy exists at all could be the first step towards sleep equality.
5,805 adults were surveyed in the Georgia Southern University study, 3,000 of whom were women aged 45 and under. In assessing how "age, race, education, marital status, number of children in the household, income, body mass index, exercise, employment, and snoring" relate to the amount sleep enjoyed each night, the only pattern found that predicted more sleep versus less was the presence (and even the number) of children in the sleeper's house — everything else was a non-factor. Research showed that 48 percent of women with children slept fewer than seven hours each night, revealing that about half of women aren't hitting the recommended seven to nine hours that doctors advise, which doesn't at all seem fair.
Study leader Kelly Sullivan explained the findings further: "Each child in the house increased the odds of insufficient sleep by 50 percent." As for men? "We did basically the same analysis and children had absolutely no impact on men," Sullivan shared. For whatever reason, dads can sleep sound as ever, with or without kids.
Also unsurprising? Women with children reported feeling tired more often than women without them, reporting 14 tired days per month versus 11 for women who don't have children. Whether it be from chasing their kids around or just from a lack of sleep the night prior, moms are worn pretty thin.
The newly-found gender sleep gap joins other researched discrepancies like inequality in wages between genders as well as shortcomings for women in the bedroom. So where does this leave women with kids? Is there any hope? "I think these findings may bolster those women who say they feel exhausted," Sullivan summed up, suggesting that the research could help women justify a commonly-held mantra of being "just tired" all the time. Studies of this nature help to illustrate commonly held beliefs, thus legitimizing women's experiences.
Maybe now, partners looking to lighten the load for a tired mom will help out a little more, and make sure that she gets all the sleep she needs.