These effects of sleep deprivation on new parents can be scary and dangerous! While it may seem impossible at times, it is so important to learn how to cope and get some sleep finally!
Would you believe it if we told you that more than 40% of parents with babies under the age of six months receive, on average, fewer than four hours of sleep each night? If you have a new baby…that is probably NOT news to you, but it is confirmed by an Owlet survey. When 500 new parents were questioned about their sleep habits. New mothers reported losing sleep due to housework responsibilities while new fathers were likely to worry about supporting their growing families when they should be sleeping.
What happened to sleeping when the baby sleeps? 41% of participants said that they are unable to sleep during those naptime breaks. It’s also important to keep in mind that it’s now common for both parents to work, so sleeping during the day isn’t an option for many new parents. When new parents were asked how much they would pay for a solid night of rest, more than half offered up $100 while many went up to $1,000.What happened to sleeping when the baby sleeps? 41% of new parents said that they are unable to sleep during those naptime breaks.Click To Tweet
Top 10 Effects of Sleep Deprivation:
Before you break out your wallet to get in on that arrangement, take a look at the scary effects of sleep deprivation. Once you understand the risks, we’ll give you eight tips for protecting your family through improved sleep schedules.
1. Your sleep habits are connected to your mood.
The less sleep that you get in, the more likely you are to feel irritable. As your crankiness soars, you’re more likely to experience depression and anxiety. One cranky baby in the house is more than enough for most families, and adding a cranky parent to the mix can feel overwhelming. If you get adequate sleep, you’re more likely to respond to your baby with positivity, happiness, and love rather than irritability, impatience, and a negative mindset that is contagious.
2. Sleep deprivation could shorten your life expectancy.
How does it feel to think about your baby’s future high school graduation and wedding day? Most parents look forward to celebrating life’s big milestones with their children, but the sleep deprivation that most parents experience could leave a lot of children facing some of those milestones without parents.
This is because researchers have found a correlation between the lack of sleep and the development of life-threatening diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Those diseases are in turn connected to a lower life expectancy, so the hours of sleep that you miss today could have tragic consequences for your future.
3. You’re more likely to have an accident while driving if you aren’t well rested.
Up all night with the baby and then heading to work in the morning? That is a recipe for disaster! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in every 25 adults falls asleep behind the wheel every month. In 2013, there were more than 800 deaths resulting from drowsy drivers causing more than 70,000 automobile accidents.
If you don’t get the sleep that you need and choose to drive, you could be among the 25% of adults who may fall asleep behind the wheel this month. Not only does this put you and other drivers at risk, but it puts your child at risk if you ever drive with your baby on board. You would never intentionally do anything to harm your child, but you unknowingly do so each time that you drive them across town while deprived of sleep.
4. Sleep-deprived workers are less productive.
Whether you work out of the house or your job is caring for your baby and the household, you can’t afford to make little mistakes that may have big consequences for your company or your family. Research has shown that sleep deprivation increases the number of mistakes that workers make while increasing the risk of on-the-job accidents.
Not only can this heightened risk put your life and job on the line, but it could lead to a mistake that impacts your loved ones for years to come. It’s not all about accidents while behind the wheel because at-home accidents are often just as tragic.
5. Sleep deprivation negatively impacts your ability to learn new skills and recall memories.
Each day with your baby creates new memories that you want to remember for a lifetime, but your lack of sleep could cripple your ability to do so. You may also struggle to learn new skills and adjust to the changes that come naturally with raising a child. Just one more reason to do whatever it takes to get between the sheets and enjoy at least seven or eight hours of sound sleep every night.
6. Memory impairment negatively impacts your ability to parent your child effectively and safely.
While not being able to store and recall special moments with your growing child is tragic, the costly mistakes that you may make while caring for your child are even worse. The more sleep deprived you become, the more likely you are to forget things that could impact the health, safety, and wellbeing of your baby and family. If you often forget where you set your keys or the time for an upcoming doctor appointment, there are many other things that you can easily forget because your brain is just too tired to stay on top of it all. Daily forgetfulness is perhaps even more critical than long-term memory loss.
7. Inadequate sleep is potentially connected to weight gain.
Did you start thinking about getting your pre-pregnancy body back before you even delivered the baby? Many women share this mission, and fathers often have a few pounds to shed after the birth as well. The problem is that you’re not likely to accomplish the mission if you sleep less than five hours each night, according to researchers. While it isn’t clear why this connection is real, it is something to think about as you push away the cheeseburgers and wonder why the scale isn’t responding.
8. You’re at a higher risk of getting sick if you don’t sleep enough.
Research has shown that those who don’t get adequate rest are more vulnerable to colds, the flu, and other common illnesses. The weaker your immune system, the more likely you are to have sick days that could in turn get your baby sick.
9. Your love life could take a hit due to your sleeping schedule, or the lack of a schedule.
Most couples struggle to maintain a healthy level of physical intimacy when there’s a newborn in the mix, and the inability to get quality sleep could make this even worse. Sleep deprivation is connected to low libido, erectile dysfunction, and a lack of energy that makes you more interested in crashing in your sweatpants than slipping into something sexy. As you’re trying to figure out a more satisfying sleep routine, think about the sparks that it could bring back to your relationship.
10. Your coordination and balance may suffer from sleep deprivation.
Do you really need just one more reason to adjust your sleep routine? Here it goes: You’re more likely to drop things, knock things over, or fall down when you haven’t had adequate sleep. This means that you’re at greater risk of dropping everything from sippy cups to…your baby! No one wants to do THAT! That’s a big concern for all parents, so let’s take a look at what you can do to spare yourself from all of these sleep deprivation dangers.
8 Ways to Become a Sleep-Efficient Parent
However, rather than focusing on the bad things that may happen due to your lack of sleep as a new parent, start taking action to protect yourself and your family. The following list of survival tips may seem overwhelming at first, but just pick one tip and implement it in your daily life. Then you can finally get some sleep!
1. Identify your priorities.
Remember that Owlet survey that we mentioned in the opening of this report? Well, more than 30% of new mothers participating in that study revealed that they lose sleep because they’re doing housework. If you can relate, you probably need to rearrange your priorities! You may not have the time or energy to keep up with your normal cleaning routine, and that’s okay. Cut yourself a break and overlook the mess while you get some rest (or enlist some help from a friend or a cleaning service.) This time is short…the mess really CAN wait.
If this is a struggle for you, take out a piece of paper and write down your priorities. This will include taking care of your baby and other children and nourishing your family with healthy food and sleep, so cleaning shouldn’t top the list. Hang this up somewhere for a daily reminder.
2. Recognize opportunities for help, and ask for what you need.
Women are told all the time “You can do it all.” Well let me tell you, that does not mean you MUST do it all! There are some chores that must get done, and you can’t do them all if you’re going to get more sleep. Even if you aren’t typically the type of person to ask for help, you should start doing so now. You don’t have to trust every helper with your baby. They can help you clean up, cook meals, sanitize bottles, wash laundry, or recommend their most trustworthy babysitters.Women are told all the time 'You can do it all.' Well let me tell you, that does not mean you MUST do it all! Click To Tweet
If you have the financial resources, consider hiring a housekeeper or personal chef just for the short term. You will eventually have the time and energy to do it all for your family again.
3. Don’t beat yourself up if you need to use bottles at times.
Yes. This is a breastfeeding site. We encourage that! We know that some mothers think about sometimes using bottles so that their significant other and loved ones can feed the baby, but they talk themselves out of it due to guilt. If you aren’t firmly set on full-time breastfeeding, allowing someone else to feed the baby while you sleep occasionally can go a long way to improving your sleep schedule. It may even help you get on a schedule if you don’t currently have one.
Buy a pump. Start a breast milk stash. Then someone can give baby a bottle once in a while so you can get a much-deserved nap!
4. Take advantage of technology for parents.
A video monitor in the nursery can save you from getting out of bed with every noise the baby makes. A cosleeper (like this one) that attaches to the side of your bed could give you more room to cuddle with your partner or sleep as you did prior to becoming a new parent. Mechanical swings may soothe the baby to sleep so that you can get some rest when needed. It’s even easier to move a sleeping baby from the car to the crib thanks to advanced carrier designs, so take full advantage of these luxuries.
5. Make use of the spare bedroom.
If you have a guest bedroom or an extra room that you can temporarily turn into a second bedroom, consider moving some of your stuff into that room. Rotate night shifts with your significant other, and sleep in the spare room when it’s not your turn. This will separate you from the baby crying and feeding sessions, which are likely to otherwise wake you up even if you aren’t on the schedule.
6. Talk openly about your fears and anxieties.
Do you worry that you won’t hear the baby cry? Does your brain run through every negative thing that could happen to your baby while you’re asleep? These worries are natural, but they can also keep you from falling asleep. Talk to your significant other, a parent, or someone else trustworthy. They will help you get the negative scenarios off your mind so that you feel better going to sleep.
7. Take action if you think depression is setting in.
Sleeping too much or too little is one of the most common signs of depression, and postpartum depression can make your sleep problems worse. Rather than trying to hide it or assuming that it will go away, speak up to those around you. Seek medical attention promptly.
8. Disconnect from technology.
If you struggle to sleep when the baby sleeps, turn off the television, put down your cellphone, and find things that relax you. Perhaps a cup of hot tea will work, or maybe you could use a dab of lavender oil on your wrist. Even sticking your feet in a warm foot bath or taking a hot bath could work. The less glowing light from screens you enjoy, the more likely you are to fall asleep easily.
Find What Works for You to Minimize the Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation is no joke and coffee can’t always just fix it. So are you relieved that this list of solutions for sleep deprivation goes well beyond the typical advice to set your bedroom up for success and stick to a strict bedtime routine?
New parents need new strategies, and these tips will help you get there. It’s important that every family find what works for them, so pick a tip or two and get started improving your sleep today. As a new parent, you need all the energy you can get to keep up with that cute baby you just brought home.
- 10 Tips to Help a Breastfeeding Baby Sleep through the Night
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