2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
After the birth of their first child, the sleep of both parents does not return to pre-pregnancy rates for six years, the scientists write in an article published in the journal Sleep. After examining data on almost five thousand German parents, scientists found that within three months after the birth of a child, mothers sleep on average one hour less a day, and after six years - 20 minutes less. Fathers sleep about 15 minutes less per night for all six years after the birth of their first child.
The baby's sleep pattern is formed in the first few months of life, at which time the baby may wake up several times a night due to hunger or other factors. Of course, this affects the sleep schedule and the parents themselves. Moreover, it is believed that in the first few months after the birth of a child, parents (mostly mothers) suffer from lack of sleep, but there are few qualitative studies that would show the extent of sleep deprivation after childbirth.
In the new work, scientists led by David Richter of the German Institute for Economic Research collected a sample of 4659 people (2541 women and 2118 men): during the observation period, from 2008 to 2015, they informed researchers about the birth of the first, second and third child. They also reported data on their age, socioeconomic status, and detailed information on sleep hygiene: sleep hours and satisfaction. The scientists used these data to track how the sleep pattern of young parents changed after the birth of children, compared with indicators before pregnancy.
In the first three months after the birth of their first child (assuming only one child was born), the sleep of mothers decreased by 62 minutes per day, and that of fathers by 13 minutes. Satisfaction with night rest was also reduced after the birth of the first child: by 1.81 points and 0.77 points on a ten-point scale in women and men, respectively. Sleep did not recover to pre-pregnancy levels over the next six years: six years after the birth of the child, the parents were also less satisfied with a night's sleep, and slept 20 and 15 minutes less, respectively. For a few children, having a second and third child did not affect sleep hygiene as much as having the first; in addition, the socioeconomic status of the parents turned out to be an insignificant factor.
The authors concluded that the birth of the first child - despite the obvious benefits - can severely disrupt the sleep hygiene of young parents, and the effect persists not only in the first months of life, but also during subsequent years.
Even with a lack of sleep, its quality can be improved: for example, through lulling, which affects not only small children, but also adults. In January, scientists found that rhythmic swinging in the horizontal plane improved the quality of sleep in people by lengthening the deep sleep phase.