Marriages tested by sleepless nights with baby

U.K. survey reveals screaming kids cause 30% of all divorces

The Observer

As any parents of a young child who is a problem sleeper will confirm, permanent tiredness and constant irritability can put a huge strain on your relationship.

In fact, according to a survey, lack of sleep is a big factor in divorce and separation for a third of couples.

Ahead of a new British series on the subject, a poll carried out for the U.K.’s Channel 4 suggests the average parent gets five hours and 48 minutes of sleep a night.

It also found that 3 in 10 couples who had split up said sleep deprivation since having their child was a factor in the breakup.

Nearly 45 percent said that they had dozed off in a place they shouldn’t have or was unsafe, with 1 in 20 admitting to falling asleep at the wheel of their car.

Children waking throughout the night, as well as the struggle to get children off to bed at a respectable hour, were equally important issues for parents.

Nearly half of the 2,000 people questioned said getting their child to sleep at a consistent time is a nightly battle.

Around 11 percent admitted to pretending to be asleep in the night so that their partner was forced to deal with a crying child, while 11 percent said they had shut the door and 9 percent said they had turned up the TV to block out the noise of a sobbing child.

A fifth of parents blamed the fact that their child had a television in their room for their failure to fall asleep.

But psychologist Tanya Byron, who is among a panel of experts taking part in the series, called “Bedtime Live,” which will allow people to call in via video to the show and ask for help, said it isn’t blaming parents — rather, family downtime is being eroded by the demands of work and the attraction of technologies, and sleep is being lost as a result.

“From a clinical perspective, a lot of those I see in my own clinics, predominantly children, have underlying issues with not getting enough sleep, even if that isn’t the problem they are presenting with,” Byron said.

“Behavioral difficulties, family issues, learning and concentration issues — there is a significant number of these common problems which have poor sleep at the heart of it,” she said.

“Kids get a bad press, but actually we are not helping them with this whole new breed of ‘friend-parents,’ ” she said.

“I see people whose children have chronic sleep problems, and they’ll say things like their children get really upset if they try to send them to bed,” she said.

“Well, I promise you, they won’t hate you in the morning when they’ve had a proper rest,” she said.

“Our generation struggles with discipline much more than any other, but the lack of boundaries will only cause more and more difficulties,” she said.

Sleep deprivation in adults is also a worry, she said, pointing to tests done on the sleep-deprived mothers.

“Those without sleep were just as dangerous as those who had been drinking,” Byron said. “One woman drove 100 meters with her eyes closed.”

Byron said the key to establishing an age-appropriate bedtime is to look at what time children are having to get up, and work backward.

National Health Service guidelines state that youngsters aged between 3 and 5 need 11 hours of sleep, 10-year-olds need 10 hours, and 14-year-olds nine hours.

Sleep needs remain just as vital for teenagers as for younger children, and scientists have been moving toward the view that they should start their day a little later than younger children to allow their brains to fully wake up.

“I have a teenage daughter and what I notice is the way life is marketed to them: high-energy drinks, the nature of technology that’s global and without time zones, 24-hour life,” Byron said.

“Sleep has slipped right off the agenda. They think if they sleep they will miss something,” Byron said.

“The boys are gaming late into the night and the girls are leaving their phones’ alerts on so it wakes them up if there’s anything going on, so the quality of the sleep is as bad as the quantity,” she said

Byron stressed that no one was trying to put the blame on parents but said that there had been a cultural shift that desperately needs tackling:

“What we have to remember is that fundamentally we are beings who run on circadian rhythms, and we are just putting our brains under constant stress if we can’t get our sleep,” Byron said.

  • A “screaming kid” is simply ” a kid”, the screaming part is superfluous since they all do it.

    So the real question is: Who would not expect a child to scream to that degree? And the answer is: People who are unprepared to have children. What is another name for people who are unprepared to have children? People who *should not* be having children.

    So, it’s more honest to say: “Married couples having children when they are unprepared cause 30% of all divorces…and unknown levels of unhappiness for the unknown numbers of individuals who choose to remain married. ” Then we add a note: “Since such couples are evidently not that bright, the couples probably would have divorced eventually anyway without the scapegoat of blaming a screaming kid.”.

  • irairaneko

    As a parent you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you sleep train kids, you’re some kind of disciplinarian nutter, if you don’t then you’re hopeless or simply slack. It’s ever a case of “What am I not doing right now?”. Mobile technology is an issue though. Ask any teacher with a classroom of glass-eyed zombies who’ve gone to sleep at 3am after umpteen hours of PSP and have eaten no breakfast.

  • TokyoMommy

    Yes, it is irritating in the beginning but it only lasts a season, you can learn to work it out SOMEHOW. Every child is different, you have to see what works with your child. Parents likewise need to remember marriage and parenting is about LOVE and TEAMWORK. Love for each other and your child goes beyond convenience, team work requires sharing one another’s burdens and workload. Once you get that figured out you will be A-OK! Don’t have that figured out? Then you will end up learning the hard way or loose your mind. The choice is really up to you.