New parents suffer from the effects of sleep deprivation for up to six years after having a baby

(Picture: Ella Byworth for

Everyone expects a lack of sleep when they have a baby but according to new research, sleep duration and satisfaction are affected for up to six years after giving birth.

The study interviewed 2541 women and 2118 men who were new parents to either their first, second or third child.

The researchers tracked their sleep from 2008 until 2015 to see when their sleep returned to normal after the birth.

The results showed that mothers sleep an hour less in the first three months after giving birth, and fathers slept 15 minutes less than pre-pregnancy levels.

Losing sleep with a tiny baby probably doesn’t come as a shock but the study also found that six years after giving birth, mothers slept 20 minutes less and fathers were still deprived of 15 minutes.

The paper, a collaboration between the University of Warwick, the German Institute for Economic Research and the West Virginia University, also found that  sleep deprivation and satisfaction were worse for first-time parents compared to parents who already had children.

The effects were also stronger in mums who were breastfeeding compared with bottle-feeding mothers.

They also concluded that lower-income household families and single parents were not any more affected compared to higher income households and dual parent families.

Dr Sakari Lemola, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick comments:

‘While having children is a major source of joy for most parents it is possible that increased demands and responsibilities associated with the role as a parent lead to shorter sleep and decreased sleep quality even up to 6 years after birth of the first child.’

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