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Study Shows Parents Lose Sleep for up to 6 Years After Birth of First Child – I say – I Wish it was ONLY 6 years!

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So, I hope they didn’t spend too much money on this research! Seems pretty obvious to me. Having a baby, bringing a real-live human being into your home to care for 24/7 will surely have an impact. I mean come one – it is a lot of work – and they don’t always sleep when you’d like them to.

Darn babies. 🙂

That being said – here’s a bit about the study by the University of Warwick:

The study shows that after birth of the first child and up to 6 years after birth mothers and fathers sleep duration and sleep satisfaction do not fully recover to the levels before pregnancy.

In the paper ‘Long-term effects of pregnancy and childbirth on sleep satisfaction and duration of first-time and experienced mothers and fathers’, a collaboration with the German Institute for Economic Research and the West Virginia University studied sleep in 4,659 parents who had a child between 2008 and 2015.

During these years parents also reported on their sleep in yearly interviews. In the first 3 months after birth mothers slept on average 1 hour less than before pregnancy while fathers sleep duration decreased by approximately 15 minutes.

Yes, a bit shocking to see mothers lose more sleep. Okay, not shocking at all. 🙂

The study goes on to say that when the children were 4-6 years-old sleep duration was still about 20 minutes shorter in mothers and 15 minutes shorter in fathers compared to their sleep duration before pregnancy. A similar time course was also observed for their satisfaction with sleep.

Sleep effects were more pronounced in first-time parents compared with experienced parents. In the first half a year after birth the sleep effects were also somewhat stronger in breastfeeding compared with bottle-feeding mothers.

Not exactly rocket science.. but okay.

This was a bit of a shocker…  Higher household income and psychosocial factors such as dual vs. single parenting did not appear to protect against these changes in sleep after childbirth. I find this fascinating – how could single mothers not be more impacted?

The bottom line – parents are tired. In my experience – things do get better when the kids are around 5 or 6 – but, let me tell you the bad news – when you have teenagers – it gets worse again. That is my opinion. When your child heads out with friends – now old enough to drive – you’re not going to fall asleep until they are home – safe and sound. It’s just the way it goes. It’s not the pure exhaustion of a new parent – it’s more a stress meets lost sleep type of thing.  And, when your kids go off to college – you still lose sleep again. You check their whereabouts, text or call to make sure they’re okay – they’re up late so you’re up late. At least that’s how it was for me.

It continues.

Now that my older girls are living on their own, working hard and doing their own things – guess what – I still lose sleep. Not as much because – thankfully, they aren’t up and out all night – they both work and that of course limits ‘nightlife’ a bit. But, thankfully I have my 4 and 7 year olds to keep me on my toes. 🙂

     

Once you are a parent – life changes. You worry more, sleep less and put yourself last. It’s just the way it is. But, let’s face it – the tradeoff is totally worth it. At least to me.

So, I suppose you can conclude this way – Parenting means increased demands and responsibilities, less sleep and decreased sleep quality – for YEARS. But being a parent is a major source of joy – for LIFE.

Mary Friona

Mary Friona

Editor-In-Chief at Totally Buffalo
Following my heart with my husband and four daughters. An Emmy Award winning journalist lucky enough to work in television & radio for 20 years -seeing wonderful places, meeting great people and telling their stories.
Mary Friona

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Mary Friona

Following my heart with my husband and four daughters. An Emmy Award winning journalist lucky enough to work in television & radio for 20 years - seeing wonderful places, meeting great people and telling their stories.

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