Most parents don’t need a study to tell them that they lose sleep worrying about their kids when they’re young, but new research shows many older adults with grown children still feel the stress, as well.
The study, published in the journal The Gerontologist, also finds that the reasons parents lie awake at night may be different for men and women. Lead study author Amber J. Seidel, Ph.D., of Penn State York in Pennsylvania, is a family gerontologist and said she got involved with the research because she believes family relationships are so important to society.
“I feel that many share this value, yet I think much of the socialization in our culture focuses on family when children are younger,” she told CBS News. “I seek to study topics that help us understand how family continues to be a central part of our lives throughout adulthood, and I encourage considering family-level influences in all situations.” For the study, the researchers examined data on 186 het married couples who had, on average, two to three adult children. The men in the couples were about 58 years old, on average, and the women closer to 57. The researchers asked the parents to rate the different types of support they offer their adult children on a scale of 1 to 8, with 1 being daily and 8 being no more than once a year.
Types of support included companionship, emotional support, practical help, discussing daily events, advice, and financial assistance. The parents also rated how stressful they find it to help their adult children, and how much they worry about their adult children, on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being “not at all” and 5 being “a great deal.” Additionally, the participants reported the amount of sleep they got each night.
The husbands reported sleeping an average of 6.69 hours a night, while the wives slept about 6.66 hours.