The Most Sleep Deprived Americans Are Single Moms, Data Shows, And That's Not Surprising

Though bragging about how little sleep you've gotten lately sometimes seems like a dysfunctional national pastime, some people definitely have it worse than others. A new study, via HelloGiggles, shows who loses the sleep lottery most commonly these days, and as it turns out single moms are the most sleep deprived Americans.

How bad is it? Well, according to the data from the Centers for Disease Control, almost 44 percent of single moms with children under 18 in their homes get less than seven hours of sleep daily. Although there's nothing too surprising about this discovery, it is bad news. On top of being just plain unpleasant, sleep deprivation and disturbance can increase a mother's chances of depression, and then two or more people's well-beings are at stake instead of just the woman's. Babies of depressed moms may even take their cue and sleep less themselves, in a vicious cycle of sleeplessness.

Married parents and single fathers do better in terms of sleep, with only 31 percent and 38 percent getting only seven hours of sleep per night, respectively. Perhaps single fathers are more likely to be sharing their homes with older children, who sleep better than the babies single moms commonly care for. But within married parent families and within the group of single people without children, men tend to get fewer hours of sleep than women. These patterns may reflect that married fathers work more hours outside of the home than married mothers, though every family is different and familial divisions of paid and unpaid labor have been shifting in recent decades.

That being said, these statistics may be hiding the good news that parental sleep deprivation is not forever, regardless of whether you are married, or a man or a woman. I would like to see it broken down into "age of youngest child" groups, where you'd expect to see that the sleep situation for parents of children under two is much worse than that of parents of teenagers.

Other time use data shows that even working mothers have about 22 hours per week for leisure, so some of that time could be traded for sleep if it were really necessary. But unfortunately, disrupted sleep may just come with the territory of having children regardless of how you organize your time, which is part of why parents tend to experience a drop in happiness upon the birth of a child.

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