For the first few months after my son was born he slept during the day and stayed awake at night with a tired mom for company. As time went on his sleeping pattern normalised but mine changed into short spans of sleeping and waking for feeding and other needs. Now research shows that, like me, all parents of newborns go through a phase of sleeplessness with almost 6 months of sleep lost by the time the child reaches two years of age.
The study of 1000 parents conducted by the sleep scientists of the Silentnight bed company has revealed some interesting results. According to them, most parents have less than four hours of sleep after the child is born as they have to get up countless times to feed, change diapers or comfort the baby.
This ‘sleep debt’ leads to constant tiredness, fatigue, mood swings and irritability with couples arguing several times a week. For some this may have drastic effects of the couple’s chronic tiredness leading to serious rows and marriage break downs.
The survey found that while adults need at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep everyday to rest and properly concentrate, two thirds of parents of newborn only slept 4 hours or less every night and of these,12 percent slept for less than 2 hours.
Experts believe that in a period of two years adults should sleep for at least 3,650 hours to rest properly but new parents can sleep only 2,738 hours leaving 912 hours or about 6 months of exhaustive sleepless nights.
One third of the parents surveyed agreed that they argued at least five times a week, one fourth of the mothers said they suffered from mood swings and depression and fifth of them said they were irritated by their partners behaviour simply because they were tired.
Says Iftikhar Mirza, the sleep scientist,
‘It is hugely important for adults to get at least the minimum recommended hours of basal sleep per night. Otherwise they become irritable, perform badly in the workplace and their alertness is seriously hampered.’
He warns that the sleepless doesn’t only hamper relations; it may lead to serious accidents at home or outside.
‘What parents don’t realise is that it’s the lack of basal sleep that is the problem. Lack of sleep and becoming parents goes hand in hand, but parents can help themselves by trying to get their babies into a routine as early as possible.’
‘They should make sure they eat healthily to boost their immune systems and take regular, gentle exercise to release endorphins, which should lower the risk of mood swings.’
– Atula, Staff Writer
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