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