Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 245–259 | Cite as

Maternal Perceived Work Schedule Flexibility Predicts Child Sleep Mediated by Bedtime Routines

  • Soomi LeeEmail author
  • Lauren Hale
  • Lawrence M. Berger
  • Orfeu M. Buxton
Original Paper


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.


Bedtime routines Child sleep Sleep duration Difficulty getting to sleep Maternal work schedule 


Author Contributions

S.L.: initiated and performed the analyses and drafted the manuscript. L.H.: collaborated with the design and writing of the study. L.M.B.: collaborated with the design and writing of the study. O.M.B.: collaborated in the writing and editing the final manuscript. All authors contributed to the revision of the manuscript and approved the final submitted version.


This study was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health (R01HD36916, R01HD39135, R01HD40421 and R01HD073352). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors have indicated no financial conflicts of interest relevant to the current study. Outside of the current work, Orfeu M. Buxton received two subcontract grants to Penn State from Mobilesleeptechnologies (NSF/STTR #1622766, NIH/NIA SBIR R43AG056250).

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Aging StudiesUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Program in Public Health; Department of Family, Population and Preventive MedicineStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Research on Poverty and School of Social WorkUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biobehavioral HealthPennsylvania State UniversityPennsylvaniaUSA
  5. 5.Division of Sleep MedicineHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  6. 6.Department of Social and Behavioral SciencesHarvard Chan School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  7. 7.Sleep Health Institute, Departments of Medicine and NeurologyBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA

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