There is a link between child sleep quality and parental economic performance, with fathers and high-skilled mothers least affected and low-skilled mothers most likely to drop out of employment or reduce their hours as a result of sleep deprivation, according to a new study.
The study, by Joan Costa-Font and Sarah Flèche at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance, uses data from a study which follows 14,000 families from a child’s birth to age 25. It contains very precise information on the child’s quality of sleep, including whether the child wakes up at night, sleep time and day sleep, as well as child sleeping routines and environmental triggers of sleep quality.The researchers compared this data with parental sleep quality, including average sleep duration, and whether the mother/father feels she had enough sleep.
The data also gives information on both maternal and paternal employment characteristics, including employment status, the number of hours worked, job satisfaction and income for parents on a longitudinal basis. The statistics show a strong negative relationship between the number of times a child wakes in the night and employment outcomes [where a mother is employed and her income].
The researchers says that child sleep quality is consistently found to be a major driver of parental sleep quality and that parental sleep quality is strongly correlated with parental employment and working-time decisions.
They say that improving a mother’s average nightly sleep duration by one hour increases employment by 4 percentage points, the number of hours worked by 7 percent, household income by 10-11 percent and job satisfaction by 0.01 points.The study is thought to be the first of its kind to look at the correlation between sleep deprivation in parents and work outcomes.