When Mi Life, a YouTuber and a vlogger, had her newborn back in 2017, she wasn’t ready to face the fact, how sleep-deprived she would become. At times, when her son was awake, she couldn’t seem to function properly. She felt nauseous and felt like she could fall asleep at any minute. Nevertheless, she had to get up and keep moving despite being severely exhausted.
Video credit: Mi Life
Sleep deprivation in young parents is not something new to hear. However, it doesn’t mean that this problem should go unnoticed.
Researchers warn about the negative consequences that an imbalanced sleep can cause. According to the Guardian with a reference to the recent study by the University of Warwick, new parents face up to six years of sleep deprivation. The mothers reported having lost around 40 minutes of sleep every night in the year after the baby arrived. And during the first months after giving birth, women reported having lost over an hour of sleep a night.
Another study, published by the Independent last year, says that young parents get around 5 hours a night on average. In general, the study claims that, during the first year after the child is born, parents lose about 59% of their normal sleep time.
We all know the problems that sleep deprivation can cause:
- memory issues
- trouble concentrating
- weakened immune system
- higher blood pressure
- poor balance
- and a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes
So how can you, as a new parent, compensate for the lost hours of sleep?
By taking an extra hour of sleep every other time.
How exactly can it benefit you?
Let’s take a look.
1. Lessen the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
It is common for a new parent to suffer from mood swings. Both new moms and dads are new to the role of being a parent, and the uncertainty that this role brings along may cause some postpartum blues.
However, some women experience symptoms that are more serious than occasional mood swings. According to the American Psychological Association, every 1 in 7 moms suffers from serious symptoms of postpartum depression. Some of the cases describe the presence of
- other psychosis-like symptoms that differ from case to case
It has been proven that sleep deprivation contributes to the deterioration of mental health, causing the symptoms of postpartum depression to get worse.
According to the study, published in BMC Women’s Health, an extra hour of sleep can help women cope with the symptoms of postpartum depression. The study observed mothers of newborns from six weeks to seven months. The results have shown that typically women experienced fewer symptoms of postpartum depression, rarely had mood swings and stress.
Disclaimer: even though regularly scheduled naps during the day can help a new parent cope with mental health deterioration, this is by no means the ultimate cure for this problem. Thus, we recommend you to consult with a therapist and get coached on planning your nap schedule as a part of complex therapy for postpartum depression symptoms.
2. Improve Memory and Coordination
New parents often face a problem concentrating, remembering things and maintaining balance if they are sleep-deprived. Severe symptoms of sleep deprivation, when it comes to memory and coordination, can cause the situations that can be harmful both for a parent and for a child.
A study, published by the Sleep Research Society, has shown that even 30 minutes of nap led to better memory and coordination that just taking a break while awake. Moreover, if you keep getting an extra hour of sleep a day during a longer period of time, you’ll feel more accomplished and less forgetful and clumsy in general.
3. Benefit Night Alertness
Every new parent knows that they will have to get up many times during the night. But knowing it and being ready for it are two different things. “Frequent night shifts also can become a part of your life for a long time during the period when you sleep-train your baby,” says Paula Peterson, a customer support manager at Flatfy and a mom of a newborn.
You might ask, how are an extra hour of sleep during the day and increasing night alertness connected?
If you’ve got a good night’s sleep today, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to easily wake up at night if your baby starts crying. The next day you’ll feel sleep-deprived again. However, getting an extra hour of sleep will substitute the lost hour of night’s sleep.
The scientists often argue, what is more important, naps or night sleep. The answer is both. But when it comes to increased alertness during the night, a daytime nap is what you’re looking for.
The Bottom Line
For a new parent, sleep deprivation is a common problem, which, however, should not be ignored. Lower quality of sleep directly influences your health, even leading to diseases like diabetes.
However, an extra hour of sleep can reverse this situation and help you replenish those lost night sleep hours. It also benefits night alertness, improves memory and coordination, and can even relieve the symptoms of postpartum depression.
It is a fact that new parents have to sleep-train their babies to make their daily life more scheduled. But you have to sleep-train yourself as well to help yourself adjust to the role of a new parent.
Ryan is a passionate writer who likes sharing his thoughts and experience with the readers. Currently, he works as a real estate agent, you can check his website here. He likes everything related to traveling and new countries.