Most new moms probably can’t remember the last time they had a full night sleep. Because baby’s sleep during the first year of his life is not regulated by day or night parents spend many nights losing sleep. But a new study suggests that it is not just the sleep loss which is a problem but it may also lead to many other problems including weight gain, postpartum depression and lack of intimacy between couples.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism published a new study that shows that there is a clear relation between sleep loss, an increase in appetite and a desire to eat. The researchers found that new moms who hardly slept after the birth of their baby were more likely to weigh an extra 11 pounds by the time the baby turned one.
The researcher Kaiser Permanente of Harvard Medical School also found that moms who slept inconsistently were more likely to suffer from postpartum depression. New dads feel the stress as well and this may result in disconnect between the parents.
In his book, Sleep Thieves, author Stanley Coren notes that during the first year of a baby’s life parents are most likely to lose between 400 to 750 hours of sleep at night. This is equivalent to losing 50-94 full 8-hour nights of sleep.
Because the human body needs a consistent amount of rest every day to function properly, the irregular sleep schedule may affect attention, memory, creativity, decision-making, problem solving and general performance levels. Regardless of who wakes up to soothe the baby, the sleep deprivation affects both parents and their levels of intimacy.
The loss of sleep can also have negative health impacts weakening the immune system, elevating blood pressure, and increasing inflammation.
Few experts also think that baby sleep issues are not just a phase they will outgrow as some parents might believe. In January 2012, researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and British Columbia Children’s Hospital confirmed that many children have sleep issues even as they get older and believe the habit is developed early on.
Chicago-based certified infant and child sleep consultant, Kim Schaf helps parents tackle the sleep issue through one on one session and group seminars. She teaches them how to develop a plan together as parents to deal with a tired baby or toddler and how parents can themselves feel more connected.
She says that the important thing for the parents to understand is that sleep issues in babies and toddlers can be handled and their sleeping habits can be developed. If babies learn to sleep at a stretch they are also healthier, happier and have increased learning skills.
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