It is 3 a.m. and you have a one-year-old. And we all know what is going on: it's feeding time, it's changing time, or it is simply time to say, "Hi everyone! I am up and excited to be here!" But you have a presentation at work the next day, carpool in the morning, and this is night number 10 in a row, so what does a sleep-deprived parent do?
A new study has told us exactly what may be happening, and no big surprises here: Mom gets up more than Dad! A University of Michigan researcher (having reviewed 20,000 working parents from 2003 to 2007) has given us the "first known nationally representative data documenting substantial gender differences in getting up at night -- mainly for babies and small children."
Not only do women get up more than men (working women are 2.5 times more likely to get up than working dads: 32 percent of women compared to 11 percent of men), but:
- Women stay up for an average of 44 minutes, compared to 30 minutes for men
The good news is that according to this study, this difference and the actual interruptions decline with the age of the child. As the child gets older (ages three to five) the difference is less, just 3 percent for working moms and 1 percent for working dads.
My suggestion for any parents with a newborn:
- Consult with your pediatrician to make sure that there is no emergent physical reason for these awakenings (e.g., Colic or reflux)
And a special note to all the moms who have partners who help out in the middle of the night (but you probably already know this): He's a keeper!
Michael J. Breus, Ph.D.
The Sleep Doctor™