Parental Work and Children’s Sleep Patterns

Cassandra Hart, Northwestern University
Emma Adam, Northwestern University
Emily Snell, Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC)

Sleep is an important factor in child cognitive, socioemotional, and health outcomes; however, determinants of sleep patterns have been little studied. Our study uses nationally representative data from the PSID Child Development Supplement (n=2,554) to examine whether parental work schedules are associated with children’s sleep patterns. Using parent reports of the hours they work in a normal week, we find that primary caregivers’ (PCGs’) work hours are predictive of children’s sleep durations and wake-up times, even after controlling for a battery of background characteristics. Compared to children of non-working PCGs, children whose PCGs work part-time get significantly more sleep and have significantly later wake-up times; children whose PCGs work over-time get less sleep and have significantly earlier wake-up times. Timing of parental work is also predictive of children’s sleep patterns. Potential mediators and moderators—including child age and the presence or absence of a secondary caregiver—are tested.

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Presented in Session 157: Children's Outcomes and Parental Nonstandard Work Schedules