It'll Take Six Years for New Parents' Sleep Schedules to Get Back to Normal, Study Says
Sweet dreams, new parents — if you can.
A new study claims that first-time moms’ and dads’ sleep schedules will take up to six years to return to normal following the birth of their child.
The study was published Monday and comes from researchers at the University of Warwick, who tracked the sleep patterns of 4,659 parents who had a child between 2008 and 2015.
Research found that in the first three months after giving birth, mothers slept an average of one hour less than they did before they welcomed their newborn, while fathers lost 15 minutes of sleep on average.
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But even four to six years later, mothers were still averaging 20 minutes less sleep than their pre-parent days. Fathers’ sleep duration, meanwhile, stayed the same at just 15 minutes less, according to the study.
“Women tend to experience more sleep disruption than men after the birth of a child reflecting that mothers are still more often in the role of the primary caregiver than fathers,” Dr. Sakari Lemola of the University of Warwick’s Department of Psychology said, according to Science Daily.
The study also reported that a new baby’s effects on sleep were stronger for mothers who breastfed as opposed to bottle-fed their babies.
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Factors such as household income and whether the mother or father was a single parent did not appear to have an impact on the results, according to the study.
“It’s normal and necessary for a newborn to be up every two to three hours — that doesn’t make for a good night’s rest for adults,” PEOPLE’s Health Squad pediatrician Dr. Elizabeth Murray told PEOPLE in August.
“It’s tempting to catch up on all the other household chores while baby is napping but everything seems worse when you are exhausted,” she added. “Nap when your baby naps as much as you can.”