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Study: Parents may not be as sleep-deprived as they think

The cause of some of my sleep-deprived nights.

New research out of the University of Madison-Wisconsin may fall on deaf ears – specifically parents’ ears. The study, published in American Journal of Epidemiology, has found that the amount of sleep deprivation that parents experience is actually quite minimal.

Say what?! Have the researchers seen the dark circles under my eyes or scanned the Facebook updates of my mom friends, who constantly complain about how tired and sleep-deprived they are? I guess not. But, as described on

Researchers relied on data collected between 1989 and 2008 by the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study, where participants tracked how much they slept, how sleepy the were during the day and the amount they dozed. Then, to arrive at their findings, they factored in which participants had kids and how many they had.

Here's what they found: Each child under age 2 years was associated with 13 fewer minutes of parental sleep per 24-hour period. For kids ages 2 to 5, parents had nine fewer minutes of sleep. And each child ages 6 to 18 years was associated with four fewer minutes of sleep.

“In general, parents with younger children reported shorter average sleep durations, and for parents with multiple children, each child contributed to reductions in sleep duration,” said study author Paul Peppard, assistant professor in the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Population Health Sciences.

As a mom to two little girls, the finding that more kids means more sleep loss is something I can relate to. But only 21 fewer minutes of sleep (9 minutes because of my 2.5 year old and 13 minutes because of my 11-month-old)?? I respectfully beg to differ.

Previously: Exploring the effect of sleep loss on health
Photo by Margarita Gallardo


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