Here's How Much Less Sleep Women Get Once They Have Kids

yawning woman
(Image credit: Ariwasabi |

For moms with kids at home, it’s not in your head: You are getting less sleep than your husband.

A new study finds that less than half of women who have children in the house get enough sleep, while men report that their sleep isn't affected by having kids in the house.

In the study, researcher Kelly Sullivan, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Georgia Southern University, wanted to understand the factors that affect adults' sleep. [5 Surprising Sleep Discoveries]

"It's important to learn what is keeping people from getting the rest they need so we can help them work toward better health," Sullivan said in a statement. "Getting enough sleep is a key component of overall health and can impact the heart, mind and weight," she said.

Sullivan analyzed data on sleep from the 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an annual telephone survey conducted across the country. Nearly 3,000 men and 3,000 women were included in the analysis.

The people in the survey reported how much sleep they got, on average, each night. Between seven and nine hours a night was considered an optimum amount of sleep, and less than six hours a night was considered insufficient, according to the study. In addition, the people reported how many days in the previous month they felt unrested.

The researchers compared people's reports of their sleep with a number of factors known to affect sleep, including the number of children in the house, people's exercise levels and whether they also reported snoring.

For women ages 45 and under, the only factor that affected their sleep was having children in the house, Sullivan found. Each kid increased a woman's risk of getting insufficient sleep by 46 percent, she found.

In addition, 48 percent of women in this age group with kids reported getting at least seven hours of sleep a night on average, compared with 62 percent of women of the same age who did not have kids in the house.

For men ages 45 and under, however, kids had no effect on the amount of sleep they got each night, according to the study. Rather, education seemed to make a difference. Men who had less than a high school education were more likely to report insufficient sleep than men who had graduated from college. In addition, men who reported snoring were less likely to get enough sleep, Sullivan found.

Having kids in the house also affected the number of days in the past month that women reported feeling unrested, but kids' presence in the house had no effect on this number among the men, the study found. [7 Strange Facts About Insomnia]

A previous study, published in 2016, found that more women than men reported having difficulty falling asleep and more difficulty staying asleep.

The study abstract was published on Feb. 26 by the American Academy of Neurology. The full findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting in Boston in April.

Originally published on Live Science.

Sara G. Miller
Staff Writer
Sara is a staff writer for Live Science, covering health. She grew up outside of Philadelphia and studied biology at Hamilton College in upstate New York. When she's not writing, she can be found at the library, checking out a big stack of books.