Working mothers interrupt sleep to take care of others

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

LONDON - Working mothers are two-and-a-half times as likely as working fathers to interrupt their sleep to take care of others.

And women are not only more likely to get up at night to care for others, their sleep interruptions last longer - an average of 44 minutes as compared to about 30 minutes for men.

These are the findings of a University of Michigan study documenting substantial gender differences in getting up at night, mainly with babies and small children, the journal Social Forces reports.

“Interrupted sleep is a burden borne disproportionately by women,” said sociologist Sarah Burgard, researcher at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

“And this burden may not only affect the health and well-being of women, but also contribute to continuing gender inequality in earnings and career advancement.”

Burgard analysed time-diary data from approximately 20,000 working parents 2003-07, drawn from the US Census Bureau’s American Time Use Survey, a Michigan release said.

The gender gap in sleep interruptions was greatest during the prime child-bearing and child-rearing years of the 20s and 30s, she found.

Among dual-career couples with a child under the age of one, 32 percent of women reported sleep interruptions to take care of the baby, compared with just 11 percent of men.

The proportion reporting interrupted sleep declined with the age of the child, with 10 percent of working mothers and two percent of working fathers with children aged one to two years reporting sleep interruptions.

And just three percent of working mothers and one percent of working fathers with children aged three to five years.

Filed under: Society

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