Mothers who have more than one child report that they have more fragmented sleep than do mothers of a single child, and fathers do not report the same effect, according to a McGill University study.
The study involved 111 parents including 54 couples and three mothers of single-parent families. Their sleep was studied for two weeks.
Mothers with one baby reported less interrupted and better-quality sleep than did those who had more than one child. Researchers found that the total amount of sleep was not dependant on the number of children.
‘Tension in the marital relationship may transpire’
“Experienced mothers perceived their sleep to be more fragmented than that of first-time mothers. Tension in the marital relationship may transpire if childcare is one-sided and not discussed collaboratively,” said Marie-Hélène Pennestri, Assistant Professor of psychology who supervised the study led by doctoral student Samantha Kenny.
In Montreal and the rest of the province of Quebec, health care providers visit the homes of parents after the birth of a child to ensure all is going well. The researchers involved in this study suggest that “interventions developed by health care providers targeting an equal distribution of daytime and nighttime childcare tasks could be helpful.”
Researchers next hope to find out there is a difference between mothers’ and fathers’ sleep patterns and why mothers with more than one child report more fragmented sleep.
This study was published in the Journal of Sleep Research.