Nearly 3 in 4 parents so desperate for sleep they’re sneaking in time for naps during day

NEW YORK — More than two in five (44%) American parents struggle to fall asleep every night — and three in four (72%) are so desperate for rest that they’ll try to sneak a nap in during the day, a recent survey reveals.

Out of 2,000 parents with children under 18 years-old, 46 percent say their kids are the main reason they can never fall or stay asleep. In fact, one in three parents say putting their children to bed is their biggest sleep routine challenge. While the average parent puts their children to bed between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., they typically don’t go to bed themselves for at least two more hours. Oftentimes, parents said they can’t get to sleep because their kids keep playing — either with a digital device (43%) or with toys (41%).

Thirty-nine percent of parents say that if their child is up past bedtime, they can’t fall asleep until their youngster is also asleep. When children are sick, on average, parents will stay up three to four hours more over the course of the night than they usually would. To combat this, more than half of couples (54%) have worked out a co-parenting system to trade shifts during the night to take care of their child.

Parents are so tired, they’ll sleep anywhere

Not enough sleepCommissioned by Sealy and conducted by OnePoll, the study also finds 68 percent of parents have had their nighttime routine change drastically over the past two years as their children have gotten older. For at least half the poll (56%), nighttime routines have been further shifted due to the pandemic. Looking to summer, more than three quarters of moms and dads (76%) agree that their family’s sleep schedule also changes with the summer break.

While one in five note their favorite parental task is putting their children to bed, 56 percent have ended up asleep somewhere other than their bed because their child has kept them up all night. In fact, respondents reported falling asleep at work, at the kitchen table, while getting a haircut, or simply on the floor next to their child. Waking up someplace other than their bed adds a further issue for parents experiencing a lack of sleep — pain. Two in three respondents say waking up in a strange place left them feeling sore the next day.

“Sleep is an essential function that allows our body and mind to recharge – it is critical to our overall health and well-being. For parents, getting a full night of rest can be especially elusive,” says Brent Pfister, Vice President of Marketing at Sealy, in a statement.

Cutting corners just for more rest

Not enough sleepSleep is so elusive for many parents, in fact, that 56 percent would even consider hiring a babysitter to handle the bedtime routine, just so they can stay in and have alone time either with themselves or with their significant other. The challenges that come from a lack of sleep have led parents to report moodiness, forgetfulness, dozing off during the day, missing an exit while driving, putting things away where they don’t belong, and more. One respondent even recalled accidentally putting plates in the washing machine instead of the dishwasher.

In addition, lack of sleep appears to lead parents to struggle with common morning tasks, such as leaving the house without forgetting something (54%) and getting themselves or their children ready in the morning (43% and 33% respectively). Just to squeeze in a few extra minutes of sleep, respondents said they have completely given up on tasks like preparing a decent breakfast (40%), packing themselves a lunch (36%), and ironing their clothes (35%).

“Everyone — parents and children alike – need a great night of sleep,” adds Pfister.


  1. Coming to my bed at night 43%
  2. Using their screens (tablets, watching TV, playing video games) 43%
  3. Playing with toys 41%
  4. Reading books 33%
  5. Crying, up for nighttime feedings, etc. 29%
  6. Hanging out late with friends 20%
  7. Homework 17%

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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