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Motherhood And Sleep Deprivation

Jun 9, 2008
New research by Mother & Baby magazine reveals some shocking statistics. Their survey shows that for the first four months of a newborns life, mothers are surviving on an average of three-and-a-half hours sleep a night with the impact appearing to be greatest on women who leave it until their late 30s to start a family.

The consequent sleep deprivation is playing havoc with their relationships and working lives. Half of those surveyed said that sleeplessness had caused rows with their partners, 13% had nearly broken up because of it and 3% had actually split up. Hardly surprising is the 83% of respondents who said that sheer exhaustion put them off sex.

The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep every night but when this is compromised you build up a sleep debt. A sleep debt is difficult to pay back and as a result your health can suffer. Fortunately, this sleep deprivation eases once a child begins sleeping through the night which normally begins at around 3 months old.

But why do mothers nowadays suffer from such profound sleep deprivation? The report in the Mother & Baby magazine points to an increasing reliance on gadgetry such as baby monitors, breathing sensors, video monitors, mattresses fitted with alarms and suggests that these actually put more pressure on parents because they are less likely to relax. Editor of Mother & Baby, Elena Dalrymple, said: Just as a watched kettle never boils, so a watched baby never sleeps.

One of the most disappointing statistics unearthed by the survey is that only 23% of dads wake up when the baby cries. This means a whopping 76% of dads enjoy blissful slumber while the mother does the hard graft (getting up on average of four times a night).

We all know how difficult it can be to function after a disturbed nights sleep so the cumulative effect of night after night of sleeplessness can be profound. It is hardly surprising that new mums vent their frustration on their partner. And when you consider that many new mums are back in full-time work by the time their baby is six months old, the pressure can be immense.

So what is the solution? It is essential for parents to work as a team so they can get through the difficult times more harmoniously. But also for new mums to know that it is OK to admit they are absolutely knackered and to grab any opportunity that comes their way to claw back some of those sleep-starved hours. Napping is a great way to reduce your sleep debt. Even 20 minutes can make a big difference for many people.
About the Author
John Mce writes on behalf of Baby Says Hello - create personalised birth & baby announcements cards and a beautiful birth announcement webpage to send to all your friends and family, http://www.babysayshello.com.
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