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Mothers with multiple children report more fragmented sleep than mothers of a single child, but the number of children in a family does not seem to affect sleep quality for fathers, according to a study by McGill University.

A total of 111 parents (54 couples and 3 single mothers) participated in the study, which was published in the Journal of Sleep Research, led by McGill PhD student Samantha Kenny, under the supervision of Marie-Hélène Pennestri, an assistant professor in the Department of Education and consultative psychology.

Participants’ sleep patterns were studied for two weeks. Mothers with one baby reported having fewer sleep disorders and better quality sleep than mothers with more than one child, although the total amount of sleep did not differ depending on the number of children. No difference was found in the fathers.

“Experienced mothers found their sleep to be more fragmented than that of first mothers. Tensions in the marital relationship can arise if childcare is one-sided and not discussed together,” says Pennestri, who also researches at the Hôpital en santé mental Rivière-des-Prairies ( CIUSSS-NIM).

According to the researchers, interventions by health care providers that aim to evenly distribute childcare duties during the day and night could be helpful. These interventions should be tailored to each family member depending on their situation.

In the next steps, the researchers want to explain the differences between mothers and fathers and find out why mothers with more than one child report poor sleep.

Parents shouldn’t worry about their baby’s inconsistent sleep patterns

More information:
Samantha Kenny et al., Sleep from Mothers and Fathers: Is There a Difference Between First-Time and Seasoned Parents of 6-Month-Old Children ?, Journal of Sleep Research (2020). DOI: 10.1111 / jsr.13238 Provided by McGill University

Quote: Mothers, but not fathers with multiple children, report more fragmented sleep (2021, January 12), which was found on January 12, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-01-mothers-fathers-multiple- children-fragmented.html was retrieved

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