A new study conducted by Researchers at the University of Warwick has demonstrated that the birth of a child has far-reaching effects on the sleep of new mother and the impact is more prominent during the first three months after birth. The study also revealed that the duration of sleep satisfaction decreases up to 6 years for both mother and father post first childbirth.
A collaboration with the German Institute for Economic Research and the West Virginia University examined sleep in 4,659 parents who had a child between 2008 and 2015 to study long-term effects of pregnancy and childbirth on sleep satisfaction and duration of first-time and experienced mothers and fathers.
Parents were also interviewed yearly to report on their sleep during these years. It was revealed that mothers slept on average 1 hour less than they did before pregnancy in the first 3 months after birth. On the other hand, the duration of fathers’ sleep cut down by approximately 15 minutes. Dr Sakari Lemola from Department of Psychology, University of Warwick says that women tend to experience more sleep disruption after the birth of a child as compared to men which reiterates that it is still mothers who play the role of the primary caregiver in comparison to fathers.
Sleep duration was still about 20 minutes shorter in mothers and 15 minutes shorter in fathers when children grew up and were 4 – 6 years old when compared with their sleep duration before pregnancy.
Besides, first-time parents showed more pronounced sleep effects than experienced parents. The sleep effects were also more marked in breastfeeding mothers rather than in bottle-feeding mothers in the first 6 months after birth. Interestingly, the changes in sleep after childbirth seemed to be immune to factors such as higher household income and psychosocial factors like dual vs. single parenting
According to Dr Lemola, it is possible that increased demands and obligations that accompany parenting lead to shorter sleep and lowered sleep quality even up to 6 years after birth of the first child.