Nav: Home

New parents face 6 years of disrupted sleep

February 25, 2019

  • After the birth of the first child mothers' and fathers' sleep duration and satisfaction don't recover to levels before pregnancy up to six years after giving birth
  • Mothers' sleep an hour less in the first 3 months after giving birth, and fathers' slept 15 minutes less researchers at the University of Warwick have found.
  • Six years after birth mothers slept 20 minutes less and fathers were still deprived of 15 minutes.
  • Higher household income and psychosocial factors such as dual vs. single parenting did not appear to protect against these changes in sleep after childbirth.
The birth of a child has drastic short-term effects on new mothers' sleep, particularly during the first three months after birth. Researchers at the University of Warwick have also found sleep duration and satisfaction is decreased up to six years after giving birth for both parents.

A new study by researchers from the University of Warwick shows that after birth of the first child and up to 6 years after birth mothers and fathers sleep duration and sleep satisfaction do not fully recover to the levels before pregnancy.

In the paper 'Long-term effects of pregnancy and childbirth on sleep satisfaction and duration of first-time and experienced mothers and fathers', a collaboration with the German Institute for Economic Research and the West Virginia University studied sleep in 4,659 parents who had a child between 2008 and 2015.

During these years parents also reported on their sleep in yearly interviews. In the first 3 months after birth mothers slept on average 1 hour less than before pregnancy while fathers sleep duration decreased by approximately 15 minutes.

Dr Sakari Lemola, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick comments:

"Women tend to experience more sleep disruption than men after the birth of a child reflecting that mothers are still more often in the role of the primary caregiver than fathers"

However, when the children were 4-6 years old sleep duration was still about 20 minutes shorter in mothers and 15 minutes shorter in fathers compared to their sleep duration before pregnancy. A similar time course was also observed for their satisfaction with sleep.

Sleep effects were more pronounced in first-time parents compared with experienced parents. In the first half a year after birth the sleep effects were also somewhat stronger in breastfeeding compared with bottle-feeding mothers.

Higher household income and psychosocial factors such as dual vs. single parenting did not appear to protect against these changes in sleep after childbirth.

Dr Sakari Lemola, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick comments:

"While having children is a major source of joy for most parents it is possible that increased demands and responsibilities associated with the role as a parent lead to shorter sleep and decreased sleep quality even up to 6 years after birth of the first child."
-end-
NOTES TO EDITORS

Full paper details: Richter, D., Krämer, M.D., Tang, N.K.Y., Montgomery-Downs, H.E., & Lemola, S. (in press/2019). Long-term effects of pregnancy and childbirth on sleep satisfaction and duration of first-time and experienced mothers and fathers. Sleep. doi/10.1093/sleep/zsz015/5289255

View the article at: https://academic.oup.com/sleep/advance-article/doi/10.1093/sleep/zsz015/5289255?guestAccessKey=158ecc77-f6df-4752-89c5-55d22107609c

For further information please contact:
Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager - Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 2476 574 255 or +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

University of Warwick

Related Pregnancy Articles:

Paracetamol during pregnancy can inhibit masculinity
Paracetamol during pregnancy can inhibit masculinity Paracetamol during pregnancy can inhibit the development of 'male behavior' in mice.
The cost of opioid use during pregnancy
A new study published today by the scientific journal Addiction reveals that the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome -- often caused by mothers using opioids during pregnancy -- is increasing in the United States, and carries an enormous burden in terms of hospital days and costs.
New study: Pre-pregnancy BMI directly linked to excess pregnancy weight gain
It's well known that excessive weight gain during pregnancy can have a lasting negative impact on the health of a mother and her baby.
Pregnancy-specific β1-glycoproteins
Development of new strategies and novel drug design to treat trophoblastic diseases and to provide pregnancy success are of crucial importance in maintenance the female reproductive health.
Should hypothyroidism in pregnancy be treated?
When a woman becomes pregnant, many changes occur in her body.
Pre-pregnancy progesterone helps women with recurrent pregnancy loss
Women who have had two or more unexplained miscarriages can benefit from natural progesterone treatment before pregnancy, a new a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago shows.
Male pipefish pregnancy, it's complicated
In the upside-down world of the pipefish, sexual selection appears to work in reverse, with flashy females battling for males who bear the pregnancy and carry their young to term in their brood pouch.
Pregnancy leads to changes in the mother's brain
A study directed by researchers from the UAB and IMIM are the first to reveal how pregnancy causes long-lasting alterations in brain structure, probably related to improving the mother's ability to protect and interact with the child.
MRIs during pregnancy and outcomes for infants, children
In an analysis that included more than 1.4 million births, exposure to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) during the first trimester of pregnancy compared with nonexposure was not associated with increased risk of harm to the fetus or in early childhood, although gadolinium MRI at any time during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of a broad set of rheumatological, inflammatory, or skin conditions and, possibly, for stillbirth or neonatal death, according to a study appearing in the Sept.
The benefits of exercise during pregnancy
Women who exercise during pregnancy are more likely to deliver vaginally than those who do not, and show no greater risk of preterm birth.

Related Pregnancy Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".