Research Shows Parents Don’t Get Adequate Sleep For The First 6 Years After A Child Is Born

The National Sleep Foundation reports all adults are in need of seven to nine hours of sleep each night to function properly. But if you have ever parented a newborn, you know infant children care nothing about these guidelines. Newborns are known for causing their parents to lose sleep and it seems this parental sleep deprivation may go on a little longer than was previously understood.

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It is easy to become exhausted both physically and mentally when your sleep needs are not met. For this reason, parents need to understand what to expect from the beginning of their parenthood journey.

Most parents understand that once their bundle of joy comes home from the hospital, there will not be many occasions that they get to sleep throughout the night. However, many of them believe this will only last for a short time and the sleep-filled nights they experienced before becoming parents will return when their baby is a little older.

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The truth is, you could expect to receive sleep that is lower in quality and less in duration until your new baby is as old as six. A study published in Sleep Journal recently looked at the sleep patterns of 4,659 new parents over a seven-year period from 2008 to 2015. Both mothers and fathers were asked to keep track of the duration of sleep each night and to rate the quality of that sleep from zero to ten.

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It was determined that during the first 90 days of birth a mother can expect to lose one hour of sleep each night on average. It may not come as a surprise that the sleep of fathers does not suffer quite as much. However, they do lose about 13 minutes of sleep a night.

The study also showed that by the time the child is six years of age, mothers and fathers do not regain that lost sleep. "In both women and men, sleep satisfaction and duration did not fully recover for up to 6 years after the birth of their first child," the study said

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The author of the study is Dr. Sakari Lemola. Dr. Lemola told The Guardian that it was a surprise for his team to learn that sleep quality suffered for parents up to six years after the birth of a child. Lemola said the complications can be different at each stage of the child's development. He says at one time the child may cry at night. Later they may have nightmares. And at some point, it may be that they simply wake up before their parents.

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Another observation that is clear from the study is that sleep does not become worse with each additional child. This is probably because the sleep of the parents is already fully compromised. Cathy Finlay, an antenatal teacher with the National Childbirth Trust also told The Guardian,

“Sleep deprivation can be physically and emotionally draining. Try not to worry about non-essential jobs around the house and accept help from family and friends when it’s offered." She also added that “sleep disruption can be difficult and exhausting, but bear in mind it won’t last forever.”

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The loss of sleep that accompanies the birth of a child is something with which many new parents struggle. Tell us about your experience in the comments. Pass this article along to your friends and family. We all know someone who can benefit from this information.