Mother's work schedule can affect children's sleep
Mothers who work with rigid work schedules can have sleep difficulties, but do these schedules have an impact on their children’s sleep quality too? Previous research has found a link between inflexible work schedules and children’s sleep patterns, but the reason why this happens has not been clear.
Researchers from Penn State University examined if this link between a mother’s work schedule flexibility and her child’s sleep patterns was in any way mediated by bedtime routines. For this study, the researchers examined data from 1040 mothers and their children of socioeconomically disadvantaged households in large US cities. When the children were five and nine years old, mothers reported their work schedule flexibility. They were asked questions about how flexible they felt their jobs were in order to handle their family’s needs. At each point, mothers were asked if their children had a regular bedtime routine and if their child had difficulty falling asleep. They also reported on their child’s sleep duration.
Having a consistent bedtime routine is the key to ensuring good sleep patterns in children, which can help mitigate any negative effects from their mother's inflexible work schedules.
The researchers found that overall when mothers had less work flexibility, their children were found to have shorter sleep cycles. But when workplace flexibility increased from when a child is aged five to when they are aged nine, children were found to stick to their bedtimes better. There was also a 44 per cent lower chance of the child having trouble getting to sleep. The research shows that having a consistent bedtime routine is the key to ensuring good sleep patterns in children, which can help mitigate any negative effects from their mother’s inflexible work schedules.
This findings of this study offer suggestions for workplace practices where employers can improve the wellbeing of their employees and families by offering diverse flexible work options. This can be especially beneficial for working mothers.
Source: Journal of Child and Family Studies
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