Women, not men, get less sleep after kids

Posted at 7:49 PM, Feb 27, 2017

A new study is confirming what you may have suspected all along. Women get less sleep after they have kids. But what about their partners? And how can you make the most of the sleep you are getting?

Every Monday morning you'll find Joni O'Donnell exercising with her friends and their kids. But for the mother of a 19-month-old, getting sleep with the same consistency, isn't as easy.

"Some days she does really good and I get maybe seven hours sleep," says O'Donnell. "Other nights we're looking at maybe four. Maybe three hit or miss."

She's not alone. A new study from Georgia Southern University found less than half of women who have children in the house get enough sleep. 48 percent of women with children reported getting at least seven hours of sleep, compared with 62 percent of women without kids.

O'Donnell says her husband's sleep patterns mimic hers because they split caring for their daughter at night, but the study found overall men's sleep is not affected by having kids at home.

When asked if she has any routines to help her sleep better, she says she tried a white noise app but but it didn't do much for her.

"So now it's kind of one of those things, sometimes I just count like my breath and try to fall back to sleep," O'Donnell says. "Or for the most part I just lay there, close my eyes and cross fingers that I'll fall asleep."

Here are some ways Dr. Phil Emrie, sleep specialist at Lutheran Medical Center says you can make the most of your sleep. Try to establish a regular time to go to bed and get up for parents and kids. Limit the use of an electronic screen for at least an hour before bed time. And make your sleep environment relaxing. Keep it cool and dark, and only use it to sleep and get ready for sleep.

O'Donnell is looking forward to getting a full night's rest again. But until then?

"You learn to live with it," O'Donnell says. "And she's worth it."

When it comes to men, education, not kids, makes the difference in how much sleep they get. The study found men who have less than a high school education are more likely to report not getting enough sleep than men who graduated from college.