1 Aug 2023

Being a mum to a baby, toddler or preschooler is a tough job, especially when the kids have sleep issues. One study showed that mums’ confidence in parenting plays a big role in how they feel when they’re not getting enough sleep.

What was studied

Researchers wanted to understand how kids’ sleep problems might affect mums’ feelings.

They also looked at whether their confidence in parenting (self-efficacy) could change how they feel.

Unlike other studies that only looked at mums right after having a baby, this one included mums with kids up to 5 years old.

Sleep problems and mums’ feelings

The study found that when kids had trouble sleeping, mums also felt a little sad sometimes.

The age of the child didn’t matter, meaning this feeling could last even after the baby stage.

What helps mums feel better

Researchers found two important things that could make mums feel happier.

First, if mums had enough sleep themselves, they felt better.

Second, if mums believed they were doing a good job as parents (self-efficacy), they also felt happier.

If we can help mums get enough sleep and feel good about being parents, it might make them happier overall.

How sleep and confidence matter

If a kid had sleep problems, it didn’t directly cause mums to feel sad.

However, when mums didn’t sleep well or doubted their parenting abilities, those feelings could be connected to their kids’ sleep problems.

Why this study matters

The finding that lack of sleep makes mums sad is a bit of an eye roll moment for those of us who have survived sleepless kids.

What’s really important here is the validation that sleep deprivation is hard, but undermining the confidence of mums makes it worse.


Carroll, A. J., Appleton, J., & Harris, K. M. (2023). Child sleep problems, maternal sleep and self-efficacy: Sleep’s complicated role in maternal depression. Journal of Sleep Research, 1– 7.