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If you’ve never had children, it’s hard to describe what it’s like trying to go to sleep – and stay asleep – every night. From newborns, to toddlers, even up to the teenage years, sleep deprivation in parents has been prevalent throughout history. The problem is, that lack of sleep is affecting your physical and mental health.
Folks who’ve had children love telling new parents, “I hope you enjoyed all those years of sleeping, because that’s pretty much over for you now.” There is some truth to that statement. A study found that new parents have up to six years of sleep deprivation.
The study also found women reported a decline in sleep satisfaction in the first year after the birth of a child. The mothers also lost about 40 minutes of sleep a night in the year after a baby arrived compared with pre-pregnancy levels regardless of whether it was their first or a subsequent child.
Deeper analysis of data showed the first three months after the birth of a first child were particularly grueling: women lost just over an hour of sleep compared with before they became pregnant.
While similar trends were seen for fathers, the effects were less pronounced. Even at three months after their first child’s birth, fathers only lost 13 minutes of sleep.
Sleep Deprivation is Affecting Your Health
Sleep deprivation sends your stress hormones skyrocketing and impairs your ability to think clearly and regulate your emotions.
For some people, that might mean having a little less energy or enthusiasm, or getting really upset a little more easily. But for plenty of others, it can be a tipping point toward major depression or an anxiety disorder.
And since we tend to sleep worse when our emotions are in a bad place, you can end up getting hurled into a vicious cycle of poor sleep, feeling bad because you’re sleep deprived, and then not being able to sleep because you feel bad, and the next day feeling even worse.
This sleep-depression cycle is possible for anyone who doesn’t log enough quality sleep.
But more and more, the evidence is showing that sleep deprivation and lower sleep quality play a role in the development of postpartum psychiatric disorders — and the worse a new mom’s sleep is, the greater her risk might be. Women with postpartum depression (PPD) sleep about 80 fewer minutes a night compared to those without PPD.
Sleep deprivation also leads to physical changes as well. Weight gain, bad skin, memory loss, a heightened cancer risk, as well as a lost sense of one’s own performance are just a few of the things that can happen with sleep deprivation. If you sleep less than 6 hours a day, you are 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who sleep 7 to 9 hours a day. With less sleep, you are also more likely to crave high carb, high fat foods, and are more likely to have a slow metabolism.
Ways to Get Better Sleep for You and Your Child
Look, we’re not here to tell you that there’s a magic fix-all for dealing with sleep deprivation in parents. It’s just one of the many sacrifices we make in order to have children. That’s not to say that you have to be completely miserable during the infrequent times you do have to sleep.
One of the most important things you can do for yourself as a new parent is get yourself a quality mattress and pillows that cater to your individual sleeping style. If you’re getting a limited amount of sleep each night, the very last thing you want to think about is how do I fall asleep on this lumpy mattress with the flat pillow?
You also need to do your research to find the right crib and toddler mattresses. Eventually, you’ll look for your child’s very first big boy or big girl mattress, but new parents have a few years before that becomes a necessity.
The sleep experts at Mattress Warehouse can help you find the best mattress for the new parents as well as the new baby. Visit a local Mattress Warehouse store today and test out bedMATCH®, our patented diagnostic sleep system that takes all of the guesswork out of finding the right mattress.