Many new mums ask me, "My baby sleeps through the night so why can't I?"
I get many mums telling me that once their baby is sleeping through the night it can take them a couple of weeks before they start doing this too. We all know that new mums and dads will suffer from extreme sleep deprivation in the early months. We expect it and accept it as fact ... http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140801105034.htm
New mums experience this hyper-alert state of vigilance over their baby. It leads to stimulation of cortisol. This, in turn, creates stress and anxiety and an inability to turn off thoughts that are racing through your head. It is really common for new mums to experience a sleep disturbance ... http://thesleepschool.org/baby-sleeps-nightwhy-cant/
Parental leave entitlements stop at 4 months for most employers however 1 out of 2 mums are still experiencing severe sleep deprivation. The thought of going back to work and getting little or no sleep terrifies many mums.
A study at the Queensland University of Technology found that while new mums were still waking on average twice a night to attend to their babies at 6, 12 and 18 weeks -- their total sleep time was about 7 hours and 20 minutes. Interestingly Australian new mothers actually slept more than the average American worker (6h 53mins).
Dr Filtness reported, "So while postpartum women experienced disturbed sleep, they didn't necessarily experience total reduced sleep time".
However, new mums, had problems getting themselves back to sleep after they had seen to their baby. This was more of an issue than the fact they had woken. It's more the quality of sleep rather than the quantity of the sleep.
Sleep disruption strongly influences daytime function, with sleepiness recognised as a risk factor for people performing critical and dangerous tasks.
Dr Filtness said the study had significant implications for decisions-makers about when women should return to work, with current government paid parental leave entitlements ceasing at 18 weeks.
"This brings into question whether four months parental leave is sufficient to ensure daytime sleepiness has diminished to a manageable level before returning to work," she said.
"It is important when developing regulations for parental leave entitlements that policymakers take into account the high prevalence of excessive daytime sleepiness experienced by new mothers.
What impact does lack of sleep have on new mums?
- Increased risk of anxiety and depression. Many mums report these issues in conjunction with lack of sleep.
- Affects bonding and attachment with the baby. If you're sleep deprived you're less likely to interact in a positive way with your baby.
- Affects the relationship with your partner. Your partner may even be sleeping in the spare bedroom. I see this a lot and it makes marriages and relationships strained.
- It will impact on your health and your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections.
- You will be more likely to load up on caffeine based drinks and eat sugary snacks as your body cries out for sleep. Again this will have a detrimental effect on health.
How should I cope with sleep deprivation?
If you're deprived of a whole night's sleep, you can catch up on following nights. If you're deprived of dream sleep, you will dream more when you next go to sleep. And if you don't have enough deep sleep, you'll have more deep sleep the next night.
Studies show that if we do not sleep for a few nights we eventually start to hallucinate. But how much and how disturbed you are varies from person to person. You may be hardly disturbed by a week without sleep, or very disturbed by just a couple of nights without your usual rest. http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a558725/understanding-your-sleep
Things to consider to help your sleep
- Choose a time when your baby has her daytime naps to have yours, making your room as dark as possible. If you also have an older child it may be hard for you to find a time to nap. So consider asking your partner or a relative to mind your children while you get some much-needed rest.
- Catch up on sleep as often as possible. Studies suggest that a short nap or two can replace quite a chunk of night-time sleep. So try to take several cat-naps during the day to allow your brain and body to revive. Rather than napping in the evening, which may stop you from sleeping properly later, try to have an early night instead. Go to bed when your baby does.
- Go to bed and get up from bed at about the same time every day. Get up early and don’t sleep too much (well, at least this one won’t be a problem for a new mum…). Too much sleep can be as bad as too little sleep.
- Get a lot of physical activity and daylight. This helps increase serotonin the feel good neurotransmitter and helps to reset the circadian rhythm.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and cool.
- Keeping smartphone and TV watching to a minimum before a nap/sleep. The blue light interferes with melatonin production. This affects you getting to sleep and stay asleep. Winding down with an e-reader or book is a better wind down tool.
- Don’t agree to do things at home or at work that are too tiresome.
- Relax for 2 to 3 hours before you go to bed every night (haha!).
- Get help if you’re exhausted. This may include getting help with your baby's sleep to help your sleep.
And remember it will pass. Your baby will learn to sleep. If you need help with this Nurture Parenting is only an email or a phone call away...