We all know that having a baby and sleep deprivation are synonymous with each other. But I'm sure all new moms can relate to - at some point - having felt serious frustration and resentment towards their partner for what feels like a serious inequality in loss of sleep.
How many of us have had to suppress a deep urge to smack a peacefully snoring husband while we're up feeding/rocking/soothing the baby for the 6th time that night?
How many of us have laid awake, even though we're utterly exhausted and the baby is sleeping, because our worries or thoughts just won't won't let us shut our brains off and go the #*!@ to sleep.
How many of us have boiled on the inside when our partner has commented that they're "so exhausted", even though he slept soundly through the night and you didn't.
Well, mamas, turns out we're not crazy.
A new study in Germany examined 4,659 parents and the sleep loss they suffered from pregnancy through the first six years of parenthood. The participating parents rated their sleep quality on a 1 to 10 scale and kept record of how many hours of sleep they were getting on each regular night.
The results are what all us ladies already knew. Sleep duration and satisfaction starts declining during pregnancy for women and then takes a nosedive for both partners immediately following childbirth.
But women take the biggest hit in sleep loss. By far.
In fact, in the first 3 months after childbirth, moms were losing an average of one hour of sleep per night. The dads? They were only sacrificing up to 15 minutes.
Once the breastfeeding and baby years were in the past, one might expect that the sleep loss would equal out, but it didn't. Even when children were between 4 and 6 years old, moms were still losing an average of 20 minutes of sleep per night while dads were still only sacrificing under 15 minutes.
“We didn’t expect to find that, but we believe that there are certainly many changes in the responsibilities you have,” Dr Sakari Lemola, who co-authored the research, told The Guardian. He explains that while children may not be waking to feed or soothe anymore, they still certainly rouse from being sick or having nightmares.
Interestingly, the study notes that the common stresses and worries associated with parenthood also seem to affect the duration and quality of the mother's sleep specifically. “Changes in paternal sleep satisfaction and duration after birth compared with pre-pregnancy are less pronounced and reach only around a third or less of the effect sizes seen in mothers. This may be associated with the observation that mothers, including working women, still have more household and child rearing responsibilities and spend more time on these tasks compared with fathers in most industrialized countries.”
Boom. There it is.
So, to the mamas who are on their fourth cup of coffee and just can't shake the tired, you're not alone. And yes, you ARE more tired than your partner. Maybe tonight you'll sleep a little better knowing that.