New parents, you're not crazy. That baby is affecting your sleep quality and duration and will continue to do so for six years, says a new study published in "Sleep," the academic journal of the Sleep Research Society.
The study asked 2,541 women and 2,118 men in Germany to rate their sleep by duration and satisfaction level. The study found that new parents reached the highest sleep disruption and dissatisfaction when the baby was about 3 months old.
And just like you might have suspected, women experience more of an affect on sleep then men. Women lost about 62 minutes of sleep compared with before pregnancy. Men lost 13 minutes. Women's sleep satisfaction level also fell 1.81 points on a 10-point scale, versus men's which fell 0.37 points.
While the study doesn't feel Earth-shattering to many parents, sleep deprivation is a serious issue. This study shows how widespread it is, says Dr. Albert Gros, chief medical officer of St. David’s South Austin Medical Center. He thinks about the affects of a lack of sleep on concentration and cognition and an increase of accidents such as tripping and falling or car accidents.
The study, Gros says, "suggests to me that one of the best things someone can do for a new mom is to let them get some sleep," he says. Offer to come over and hold the baby while she sleeps, he says.
It also reminds us of "the inequity of sleep deprivation," Gros says. "Dads need to step it up if they are really going to be a good co-parent. They need to divide up the duties a little bit more."
He suggests dads can help by going to get the baby, change the diaper, and then bring it to the mom to nurse at night. Moms who are breast-feeding can even bank some milk for nighttime so dads can help more.
So, what's the magic of a child being 6 years old when parents' sleep patterns return to before baby? We suspect it's kindergarten and children being so exhausted from a day at school that they sleep more at night.
So new moms and dads, take comfort. In six years, you will sleep again.