We all know about the perils of new parenting, and how hard it is for new parents to get a good night’s sleep, but a new study is indicating that the hard effects of sleep on a new parent can last well beyond those newborn months. The study tracked close to 5000 German parents whose babies were born between 2008 and 2015, and the results were pretty surprising. The parents reported their own findings to the study publishers, logging their amount of sleep and quality of sleep over a period of a few years. There haven’t been many studies of this kind done before, so this was really exciting to see how the results panned out. The results really just reinterated what we already know about new babies and sleep, but it was a little bit surprising to see that loss of sleep and sleep issues really does continue on for years after a baby is born. It’s definitely not just an issue for parents of newborns!
As one might expect, new moms reported losing much more sleep than new dads during that all too familiar first year following the birth of a child. New moms reported losing more than an hour of sleep each and every night during the first year of their baby’s life, while new dads only reported using about fifteen minutes of sleep every night. Not surprisingly, moms who breastfeed were more likely to report sleep difficulties and more sleep disruptions. This is very typical and not too surprising for moms who breastfeed, as they can sometimes have more sleep disruptions throughout the night. That’s not to say that bottlefed moms have it any easier. The truth of the matter is that all moms (and dads too!) experience some loss of sleep during the first year and beyond!
The most surprising part of the entire study was that parents reported that their sleep patterns didn’t actually return to normal until about six years after their baby’s birth! Want to hear something even more surprising? Parents reported that their quality of sleep actually NEVER returned to normal after the birth of their baby. So, if you are a new parent who is waiting until your child gets older to get back to sleeping good, you may be in for a rude awakening (no pun intended!). Don’t start thinking that things might be better for you when it comes to getting shut eye just because your baby is getting older! There are so many reasons that parents don’t get much sleep, not only when their babies are newborns, but beyond that as well. Obviously, those first few months that parents and baby are getting used to each other are usually the worst as far as sleep quality goes, and that’s when babies are usually waking up every few hours. However, even after babies are sleeping through the night, parents sometimes find themselves unable to sleep, whether it be for worrying about various life issues, or just being too tired to be able to sleep, and unable to turn off their brains enough to fall asleep. Parenting definitely takes a lot out of ya, that’s for sure! New parents often struggle with getting enough sleep, and with overwhelming stress in general. Having a baby brings with it so many different feelings, issues and problems that it can take quite a while for new parents to become acclimated to what they are doing!
It just goes to show another example of how dramatically parents’ lives change when their children are born. Parents never get their sleep cycles back to normal after their babies are born, and they are never satisfied with their sleep habits again. It’s just the fact that parents are always stressed out and worried about things after their kids are born, and they never are able to obtain the deep, stress free sleep that they once had. It’s just another one of those trade offs that parents experience! You can imagine if you have more than one baby, just how bad your quality of sleep will be after that! Keep this in mind if you are worried about your sleep cycle and sleep quality while you await the arrival of your new baby! If the results of this study are any indication, it might be good to stock up on some coffee and caffeine now, because it sounds like you are gonna need it for the next few years at least! Good luck to all you new parents out there and may the odds be ever in your favor!