Older Parents Still Lose Sleep Fretting About Their Adult Children Research States
Your kids will always feel like your babies, no matter how old they might be. When children are young, you might worry about things like if they’re getting enough vitamins in their diet, or if they will fall and hurt themselves during recess without you to come to their rescue. When the child gets a little older, your worries change to things like how to afford a college education for them and teaching them how to drive in order to be safe on the roads.
However, one thing is certain. Despite the age of your children, you will always worry about their health and safety. If you’re a parent who constantly worries about their grown children, you certainly aren’t alone. Actually, recent studies are showing that most parents are still worried about their adult children, even to the point of losing sleep over it! Just because you have an empty nest doesn’t mean the worries stop!
Parents Still Lose Sleep Over Their Grown Children
A researcher from Penn State University, named Amber J. Seidel, decided to perform a study in order to understand how the relationship works between sleep patterns of parents and their worries for their kids. The research concluded that even when children are grown, the stress of raising them and worrying about them continues well into the child's adulthood.
In an interview with CBS News, Seidel talks about the fact that she now knows just how many parents share this quality. She also brings up the fact that our culture only seems to talk about the worries of children during their adolescence, and the stress that continues on as they grow into adults is hardly talked about, which is what inspired her to conduct this study in the first place.
The study, which was later published in The Gerontologist, followed 186 heterosexual couples to understand this topic. The families were all middle-aged as well as married. The main point of the study was to find answers to three huge questions that the researchers had: One question was about how much support they can offer their children, one was about how stressed they are over their children, and the last was about their sleep patterns as parents.
The families were asked to state how much support their grown children required. The scale was from 1-8, with 8 being less than one time each year, and 1 meant each day. Keep in mind that the study’s definition of support varied. Support in this context could mean anything from conversation and communication to helping their children with financial issues. Next in the study came the question of how much these parents worried about their grown children, which was rated on a scale of 1-5. They also had to measure their stress levels about the situation, and how much worry that helping their adult children causes them. The last part of the study involved asking these families how much sleep they receive each night. Wives seemed to report a small amount higher than the husbands, with 6.66 hours and 6.59 hours, respectively.
Although the results can be unexpected to some people, this study came up with some important conclusions. With these results, it seems that relationships with grown children can actually impact the sleep schedules of their middle-aged parents. However, it affects each gender differently. Wives from the study had their sleep interrupted by anxiety caused by giving support to their adult children. On the other hand, husbands seemed to have sleep issues stemming from the stress of supporting their grown children. We’re all aware of just how important sleep can be.
Receiving an adequate amount of uninterrupted sleep can help us maintain healthy brains and bodies. This new study shows that the worries that come when your children reach adulthood can actually have detrimental effects on the sleep schedule and the overall well-being of the parents. Not receiving adequate sleep can cause learning issues, weakened memory, mood issues, and delayed reaction times. However, Seidel wants to remind people that everyone deals with stress, and this isn’t the only problem. It’s important to remember that we need to find healthy ways to deal with stress in order to reduce its impact on our bodies.
Tips For Dealing With Stress
When it comes to having children, you might realize that worrying will be a constant factor in your life. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to let these worries control you. Whether your nest is empty or your children still reside at their childhood home with you, tips for dealing with stress can help you maintain a normal lifestyle while still dealing with these worries in healthy ways. Follow these helpful ideas when trying to handle your stress levels, and you’ll notice a significant improvement in your quality of life and sleep patterns!
Eat a Balanced Diet
Making sure to stay on top of eating a healthy diet can help your brain and body function properly. This helps aid your sleeping patterns to be more regular. Avoid skipping meals, and always keep a snack that can boost your energy and mood on you at all times.
Daily Activity and Exercise
Exercise is an instant mood booster and is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Being active can help you burn off some of your excess energy in order to procure an adequate amount of sleep after performing the activity.
It can be helpful to volunteer in your local neighborhood or find groups to get involved in. Connecting with others over something positive can help give your brain a break from the stress you feel, and you’ll be left with uplifting feelings and a happy spirit when you put your energy towards something that can help others.
Reach Out To Someone
Everyone needs to talk to someone about their innermost thoughts and feelings sometimes. Don’t feel like the only people you can reach out to are your grown children and your significant other. It’s important that we also reach out to our friends, or even counselors and support groups if necessary, in order to get our feelings in check.
Give Yourself a Timeout
Take some time away from stressing and do things that you enjoy doing. Allow yourself time to read your favorite book, listen to your favorite music, or treat yourself to the salon and get a massage. Taking steps away from your current stresses can let you see things more clearly when you return.
Reduce Intake of Caffeine and Alcohol
Alcohol and caffeine can have many negative impacts on our bodies. They can instigate anger, boost your anxiety levels, and even cause panic attacks. Reducing your levels of both of these substances can help reduce your overall anxiety, having significant impacts on your overall health and wellness.
Use a Journal
Sometimes it feels like there is no place for you to properly vent your feelings. That’s where a journal comes in. This allows you to express yourself in any manner that you need to, with no threat of judgment. Whatever you need to get out, write down and your thoughts and worries will vanish. If you thought you were alone in continuing to worry about children that have already left the nest, you aren’t. But it’s important to remember to balance this stress in healthy and proper ways. Don’t allow the stress to ruin your life and impact your sleeping schedule. Remember to continue your loving relationship with your children as they grow, and promote their happiness for as long as you can.
Learn more in the video below:
Do you relate to any of the findings in this study? Have your children negatively impacted your stress levels? Let us know in the comments and show this to any empty nesters you know to see what they think!
Our content is created to the best of our knowledge, yet it is of general nature and cannot in any way substitute an individual consultation by your doctor. Your health is important to us!