Going through another sleepless night? It happens with more mothers than you think.  As per several studies, sleep patterns for mothers with babies under six months is pretty erratic and they get just 3 hours uninterrupted sleep at this stage. Sleep deprivation is as real as it gets & anyone with infants would know.

Sleep deprivation is a serious issue among new mothers. During the first 3 months, your baby will wake up multiple times every night. Everyone knows that sleep deprivation comes with parenting in the beginning. However, one cannot predict the seriousness of it until one experience it. 

Dr Bharathi Ramesh, Senior Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Motherhood Hospitals says, “Adults need at least 8 hours of sleep every day to feel refreshed and stay healthy This is not the case for new parents as they have to wake up multiple times to check on their babies and night-time feeding. Loss of sleep is much more common among mothers than fathers. According to a study, men lose 13 minutes of sleep on an average every night, while it is almost 1 hour for a woman. Not only this, but mothers are the most sleep-deprived during the first 3 months of parenting.”

The Link Between Breastfeeding And Sleep

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Parents who choose to breastfeed are more prone to waking up during the night. As per research, babies dependent on breast milk face several awakenings in the night than formula-fed babies. Therefore, they are more likely to wake up easily. 

“New parents may also tend to fall asleep while breastfeeding, which is why you must feed the baby on your bed. Make sure that there are no risky objects like blankets, pillows etc. As soon as you wake up, put the baby to sleep within their space,” says Dr Bharathi Ramesh. 

Effects Of Sleep Deprivation On Health

exhausted sleep deprivation new mom

Sleep deprivation can impact your physical and mental health as you would feel much more exhausted and forgetful.

Impact On Physical Health

Although it may not have lifelong issues, sleep deprivation can still affect your physical health in many ways. Not sleeping enough can affect your immune system, and you will be more prone to falling sick. It can also result in obesity with the change in appetite and metabolism due to lack of sleep. If you are sleep deprived for a longer period, it can result in medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.

 Low sleep levels can even decrease sex drive. Without sufficient sleep, you even take a long time to react to things, resulting in accidents and injuries. This can happen, especially while riding motor vehicles. Therefore, avoid using any machinery if you are sleep deprived.

Impact On Mental Health

Not sleeping properly can make you moody and irritable. You may lash out easily at your friends, family or partner over petty issues. There are high chances of developing mental health disorders like anxiety and depression, resulting in poor mental health. 

Sleep deprivation can also lead to postpartum depression among mothers. New mothers are at high risks of suffering from increased levels of anxiety, causing postpartum depression. Sleep deprivation is one of the causes of high levels of anxiety among mothers. 

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How Mothers Can Get More Sleep?

expert sleep deprivation new mom

To avoid any high impact on physical and mental health, you must follow a few ways suggested by Dr Bharathi Ramesh to improve sleep while parenting. 

  • You must sleep when your baby sleeps. This can help to reduce stress levels and prepare you for pending household chores. Power naps or sleeping for 10-20 minutes can also help.
  • Set up a schedule to divide night-time duties among you and your partner. You can hire a baby nurse during the night to get better sleep.
  • Create a good bedtime routine for your baby. Encourage good sleeping habits and daily naps for your baby. 
  • Do not ignore any health conditions or sleep disorders. If you have sleep apnoea (breathing stops and starts while sleeping), make sure you seek help from a doctor. This is common among mothers due to weight gain.

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Sleep deprivation cannot completely be eradicated from your lives as new parents, as the first few months will be hectic. However, you can follow a few steps to minimize sleep deprivation and its impact on your health. It is alright if you feel exhausted and frustrated a few times a day.

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