The effect of sleeplessness goes beyond just being tired the next day. Scientific research done in the past indicates that if parents work long hours, children too have to bear the brunt of that, particularly on sleep and weight aspect. A recent study conducted at the University of Illinois throws some light on this.
According to this study, there is a correlation between working hours of mothers and sleep hours and Body Mass Index (BMI) of their preschooler children.
Let’s have a look what the new research says
The study authored by Katherine E Speirs, a postdoctoral research associate in human and community development at the University of Illinois, investigated the link between mother’s employment and weight of their children over a period of time, trying to assess the impact of intermediaries like the amount of time children’s spent watching TV, family mealtime routines, children’s sleep, and their eating habits.
Katherine and co-authors Janet M Liechty and Chi-Fang Wu monitored 247 mother-child pairs from the Strong Kids study. The kids, between the age of 3 to 5 years, were weighed at the start of the study. Researchers repeated the same process after one year. They found that 12% of the preschoolers were obese and 17% were overweight. There were 66% mothers out of the 247 pairs, who were full time employees with work hours of 35 or more per week. On the other hand, 18% were part-time employee, having work hours between 20 to 34 hours per week.
Children’s of 3-5 years of age group require a sleep of 11-12 hours. Children of mothers having full-time employment clocked lower hours of sleep as compared to children of mothers having part-time employment. On an average the children got only 9.6 hours of sleep at night. Only 18% of the children got the necessary 11-12 hours of sleep.
How mother’s long-working hours affects preschoolers sleep and BMI?
The key findings of this study are that preschoolers of working mothers are more prone to being overweight and obese within a year. According to the research, night-time sleep is an important factor of regulating weight. This was the reason why Katherine and team looked at night-time sleep for this study.
Mothers who work for long hours face the challenge of work life balance. Work pressure drains a lot of energy because of which mothers tend to get in bed early. Children in such cases get less time from their mothers. Also, the children have to get up early as mothers need to take them to day care centre on the way to their office.
The study was conducted on mother and children pair who were enrolled in 32 day care centres of Central Illinois. The household earning is also an important factor in children getting required amount of sleep. Out of the group of mothers, 66% had college degree. Mothers with college degree will get a better job than a mother without a degree. The better job entails standard working hours and good pay. The standard work hours will help provide an opportunity to the mother to give more attention to the children. At the same time, good pay will ensure that the mother doesn’t have to work elsewhere.