Do you feel like you’ve not had a good night’s sleep in a VERY long time? Depending on how old your children are, we may have good or bad news for you.
According to new research, parents experience sleep deprivation when they have a baby and it lasts for SIX years. Jeez!
Parents aren’t sleeping properly for SIX years with each child
Researchers at the University or Warwick published a study in the journal Sleep. They found that new parents don’t get a proper night’s kip in the first six years after giving birth.
The sleeping patterns of 4,659 parents, who had a baby between 2008 and 2015, were examined and it was found that mums slept one less hour than before pregnancy in the first three months after giving birth. Dads sleep decreased by 15 minutes, on average.
“Women tend to experience more sleep disruption than men after the birth of a child reflecting that mothers are still more often in the role of the primary caregiver than fathers,” says lead author Dr. Sakari Lemola.
What’s more, by the time their child was four to six years old, mums in the study slept, on average, around 20 minutes less than they did before having kids. Dads still experienced 15 minutes less sleep than before. Yikes!
“While having children is a major source of joy for most parents it is possible that increased demands and responsibilities associated with the role as a parent lead to shorter sleep and decreased sleep quality even up to 6 years after birth of the first child,” Dr Lemola added.
The research found that the effects on sleep were more pronounced in first-time parents and also with mums who breastfed over bottle-feeding.
With more kids, we still get less sleep but we’re more used to it, so it may not seem as extreme.
“After the second and third child, the effects on maternal sleep satisfaction are less pronounced than after the first child,” the authors write.
“In contrast, maternal sleep duration shows a similar magnitude of change regardless of whether it was after the first, second, or third child.”
Why are parents so tired?
So, why are parents still not getting enough sleep when their kids are no longer babies?
Experts believe it’s down to changes in duties as well as parental worries.
“Causes of the long-term decrease in sleep satisfaction and duration till six years after birth may involve changes in duties, strains, and worries related to the parental role even when children are older,” the authors write.
“Because sleep plays an important role for adjustment and mental health during pregnancy and postpartum, it is an important task for future research to examine ways to protect sleep satisfaction and duration in this stage of the life cycle.”
Researchers are hoping their study will help new parents manage their sleep expectations.
“Furthermore, advice and support should be routinely provided for new parents preparing for childbirth, towards managing their postpartum sleep expectations and to encourage them to take precautions to reduce risks from the effects of sleep fragmentation and deprivation.”
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Becoming a mum – especially of the first time – can be an exciting, daunting, confusing and interesting experience. You certainly step into a whole new world – that often feels a whole lot unfamiliar.
Breastfeeding, formula, dummies, cots, mastitis, baby health and development – there are so many things to know and understand.
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