It will come as no surprise to anyone with kids or grandkids, but research has now revealed that when it comes to their children, parents never actually stop worrying.
A study carried out by the Gerontological Society of America found that parents lose sleep about everything from their kids’ health to their relationships, mental wellbeing and financial situation, regardless of how old their children are.
The findings were published in journal The Gerontologist this year and showed that, while society often focuses on the wellbeing of younger children and the strain this puts on parents, nothing changes as they age as parents still experience stress and lose sleep over their offspring.
Researchers examined 186 heterosexual married couples and asked them to rate, on a scale of one to eight, the level of ‘support’ they believe they offer their adult children, which includes everything from speaking over the phone to helping with money and offering advice.
According to website Apost, one on the scale was classified as daily interaction with their adult children, while eight was deemed as offering help just once a year. Participants were then asked to rank their stress levels on a scale of one to five, with fivef being the most stress, before their average sleep duration was recorded.
On average, mothers got around 6.66 hours of shut eye per night while dads slept for slightly longer at 6.69 hours.
Scientists from the University of Philadelphia, USA, then analysed the findings and discovered fathers reported a loss of sleep when they put in more effort to support their adult child. Interestingly though, dads didn’t lose any sleep when their wives were the one offering the emotional support.
However the study revealed that for mums it’s the opposite, as they lost sleep regardless of whether it was them, or their partner, offering the support to their child.
The researchers said that their findings could be key in helping ageing parents to “be aware of and manage ways that stress, support and concern for adult children” relates to their sleeping habits and can benefit them in a range of ways.
Another interesting finding to come out of the study was that men reported feeling physically exhausted by the act of supporting their kids, while women were drained emotionally, as a result of worrying about their grown-up children.