When I first had my son, I slept a total of three to four hours a night. I wish that was an exaggeration. But, because I breastfed, I woke up throughout the night like clockwork, nursing my baby back to dreamland. And while the little one slept like an angel, I sat in bed, awake but exhausted, unable to slip into sleep. Of course, I am not the only new parent with this experience. In fact, these stats about how much sleep new moms get will give you nightmares — if you're able to sleep at all, that is.
If you have a kid 6 months old or younger, you're probably not sleeping much, according to Fit Pregnancy. A 2016 survey from Owlet Baby Care found that only 5 percent of parents with infants are sleeping the recommended eight hours a night, Fit Pregnancy reported. Nearly half — or 43 percent of parents surveyed — are sleeping an average of one to three hours a night.
This is far less than what the Daily Mail reported in 2013. According to the outlet, parents only receive an average of 5.1 hours of sleep each night in the first year of their child's birth. That mean a new parent loses about three hours of sleep a night (if accounting for the recommended eight hours) — or more than 1,000 hours of sleep in one year.
What's more: According to Parents, more than three-quarters of parents who participated in a National Sleep Foundation poll said they have frequent sleep problems. And that's not just new parents with infants — that's all parents.
There are strategies for new parents to catch more zzz's. It's important to get the recommended eight hours of shuteye because sleep deprivation can be harmful and dangerous. According to Psychology Today, when you're exhausted, you express less positive or happy emotions, which can affect your child's behavioral development. A lack of sleep can also impair your focus, decision-making skills, and stress levels, which can impact your child's safety and well-being.
And it turns out that sleep deprivation lasts a while for new moms. According to PBS, an Australian study found that new moms are still in that zombie-like state for four months, if not longer, after their baby is born. How does that affect parenting? Dr. Ashleigh Filtness, who led the study, told PBS,
Sleep disruption strongly influences daytime function, with sleepiness recognized as a risk-factor for people performing critical and dangerous tasks.
So what tactics could you employ in order to get more time in dreamland? Parents suggests compensating for loss of sleep when you can, trade off night feedings between parents, establish a sleep ritual, and lower the monitors. Another recommendation is to catch some shuteye while your baby naps — common advice heard by parents around the world. I know I still hear it to this day, and my son's 2 years old.
But that's actually not good advice, even though it's well intended. According to the Owlet Baby Care survey, 41 percent of parents with kids 6 months old and younger are never able to sleep when their infants take their daytime naps. That means that 20- to 30-minute nap you should take while your child's asleep, as Parents offered, doesn't actually happen for a lot of parents. I know it didn't — and still doesn't — happen for me.
The older my son gets, the more sleep I am able to pack in at night. Still, I know I can permanently kiss eight-hours-of-sleep-at-night goodbye. Well, OK, I never slept well, even before baby. But any hope of a normal sleep routine went out the window in May 2015. And that's just scary.
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