Rigid work schedules are negatively associated with adults’ sleep. Less is known about whether parents’ work schedule flexibility influences their children’s sleep. We examined associations of mothers’ perceived work schedule flexibility with their children’s sleep over time and whether these associations were mediated by bedtime routine adherence. Two-waves of data were drawn from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a sample of socioeconomically disadvantaged households in large US cities (N = 1040). When the focal children were ages 5 and 9, mothers reported their work schedule flexibility and their child’s bedtime adherence, sleep duration, and difficulty getting to sleep. Cross-sectionally, higher levels of maternal perceived work schedule flexibility were associated with longer child sleep duration and a lower likelihood of having difficulty getting to sleep; these associations were mediated by greater child bedtime adherence. Longitudinally, increases in mothers’ perceived work schedule flexibility from child ages 5 to 9 predicted increases in child bedtime adherence at age 9, which, in turn, predicted increases in child sleep duration at age 9. Increases in perceived work schedule flexibility also predicted a decreased likelihood of children having difficulty getting to sleep, but this association was not mediated by changes in child bedtime adherence. These results suggest that mothers’ perceived work schedule flexibility may be a social determinant of child sleep health, largely through influencing bedtime adherence. Future interventions could consider how to improve bedtime practices in families with working mothers, including by increasing work schedule flexibility perceived by working parents to promote child sleep health.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies