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Having Kids Means Less Sleep for Women But Not for Men

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No one becomes a parent with the hopes of getting more sleep (ha!), but the sleep deprivation associated with having kids is one-sided when you compare the sleeping habits of both moms and dads.

Using data from a national telephone survey, researchers from Georgia Southern University analyzed responses from over five thousand participants to figure out why people weren't sleeping as much as they should be. In case you weren't sure what the optimal amount of sleep is, the National Sleep Foundation suggests between seven and nine hours of sleep per night for all adults up to age 65. In the study, more than seven hours was considered an ideal amount of sleep, whereas less than six was considered insufficient. The only factor that made women under 45-years-old more likely to get six or fewer hours of sleep per night was—you guessed it—children. (BTW, here are 6 reasons you need more sleep.)

The study authors looked at a ton of factors that could potentially impact sleep: age, marital status, race, weight, education, and even exercise levels. Still, having kids in the house was the only trend that was significantly associated with insufficient sleep for women in this age group. What's more, each child in the house increased the odds of the mother getting insufficient sleep by 50 percent. They also found that having kids made women more likely to feel tired in general. Makes sense.

Interestingly, men with kids didn't have the same correlation. Not even a little bit. In other words, if you feel exhausted and you have kids—potentially more exhausted than your male partner seems to be—you're probably not imagining it.

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

Are you a new mom struggling to find time to sleep? Send this story to your partner if you have one, and try to improve the quality of your sleep even if the quantity is a little out of your control.

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