How Sleep Deprivation Affects New Parents

mother and daughter cuddling in bed

Parents are sleep-deprived, there’s no question. Especially new parents. I’m the mom of a toddler, and I don’t think I ever imagined what being that this tired would feel like.

New studies have shown that nearly half of all parents with children six months or younger get just one to three hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. I’m sure that comes as no surprise. Also not surprising is the fact that 32 percent of moms say their male partners did not wake up to check on the baby in the night, and just seven percent of men say the same about their females partners.

Sleep that is repeatedly fragmented and/or low quality is just as unhealthy as no sleep at all. There are the obvious things that happen when you are sleep deprived: cognitive impairment (memory loss, lack of concentration), moodiness, and risk of accidents. That is probably why parents have been drifting off to sleep in uncommon places (work, parked cars, the kitchen table, heck even the shower, which can’t be safe.). Sleep deprivation also can cause a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, weight gain, increase your risk for diabetes, and increase your risk of heart disease.

There may be no getting around interrupted sleep for new parents, short of your child sleeping through the night. What can happen is that you can ensure your precious few hours of sleep are restful sleep. How so? Start by your sleep environment. Minimal lighting is best. A small nightlight is great when trying to fumble around half-awake. Try not to check your phone or turn on any screens when you are awake with your baby. I know it’s hard, and I was guilty of Googling every question I had while up with my baby.

Another key component is your mattress. Is it providing you the best sleep you could get? If the few hours you are asleep are spent tossing and turning, then you essentially are not sleeping. A quality mattress might make those sleep deprived months (or years!) more manageable.

What other sleep deprivation tips do you have for new parents?



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