Being tired is a completely normal part of parenthood, but many moms are taken aback by the intensity of exhaustion during the "new mom" phase. Sleep deprivation takes its toll on your body, but just how are new moms affected by sleep loss? Studies are showing that the effects are worse than people think.
It makes sense that a new baby brings about exhaustion. The short bursts of sleep during baby's two to three hour naps, the constant feeling of being needed, the new weight of responsibility. Saying it's a lot to handle is putting the title of new mom lightly.
It turns out, the effects of exhaustion aren't just in your head. One study from the Public Library if Science found that the result of frequent waking and short hours of sleep lead to excessive daytime sleepiness in the 33 women they studied over the first 18 weeks postpartum. The study called for employers to be aware of this fact when creating their maternity leave programs, because excessive daytime sleepiness can certainly effect a person's quality of work among other things.
Although a certain amount of sleep loss is to be expected, many parents aren't aware of the negative effects that not getting enough sleep has on their bodies, and so they don't make it the priority that it should be. Parents suggested that new moms make an effort to make up lost sleep (which is possible over short periods of sleep loss) when they can, ask their partner, or a friend, or parent for help, and try to go to bed as early as possible to ensure they're getting the maximum amount of rest as possible and avoiding these common side effects of lack of sleep.
The aforementioned Parents article noted that lack of sleep decreases people's ability to think clearly, which is especially dangerous for new parents. The "fog" that comes over your brain when you're tired is as real as the hours of sleep you missed last night.
Similarly, sleep deprivation has a profound effect on your sex life as well. Not surprisingly, when you're exhausted the last thing you're going to want to do is get intimate. According to Shape magazine, getting less than six hours of sleep can lower libido in both men and women.
According to Postpartum Progress, developing postpartum depression is one of the more serious consequences of lack of sleep and, unfortunately, it's hard to avoid. The article suggested that mothers feel no shame in prioritizing themselves when they need to in order to get the rest they need to stay mentally and physically well.
Although your skin isn't likely your top concern as a new mom, studies are showing that sleep deprivation speeds up the aging process regardless of how old you are. Researchers at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland found that sleep deprived women's skin ages prematurely, is less able to recover after sun exposure, and more likely to break out due to stress and exhaustion.
Harvard Health Publications noted that sleep loss affects your brain in more ways than one. In the long term, you're more susceptible to memory loss both in the present and in the future if you're consistently getting too little (or too much) sleep.
If you're struggling to maintain a healthy milk supply, lack of sleep may be one of the reasons why. According to Very Well, postpartum fatigue can interfere with your breastfeeding relationship and cause your body to produce less milk.