Having a baby affects mothers' sleep more than fathers, study suggests

Lizzie Roberts
·2 min read
Having a baby does affect a good night's sleep for mothers more than fathers, despite the rise of the modern man willing to share parental responsibilities, a new study suggests.   - Getty 
Having a baby does affect a good night's sleep for mothers more than fathers, despite the rise of the modern man willing to share parental responsibilities, a new study suggests. - Getty

Having a baby does affect a good night's sleep for mothers more than fathers, despite the rise of the modern man willing to share parental responsibilities, a new study suggests.

Researchers also discovered that experienced mothers suffer more than first time mums, for sleep quality gets worse with each new child while for fathers, it makes no difference.

And it may be down to the men not pulling their weight, health experts said, because as a couple have more children the lack of help from dads increases the tension and stress in the mothers.

It is not just the amount of sleep in hours and minutes that is affected, but the number of times it is interrupted and the quality of sleep, according to the study published in Journal of Sleep Research.

Researchers at Montreal's McGill University analysed the sleep patterns of 54 couples with children and three single mothers every night for two weeks.

First time mothers suffered fragmented sleep. But while second or third time mums had more experience in dealing with a crying baby, their quality of sleep worsened - though the time spent asleep remained the same.

However, for fathers, their overall night time sleep patterns remained unchanged both in length and quality whether they were father to one crying baby or multiple children over the years.

Sleep strategies
Sleep strategies

Assistant Professor Marie-Hélène Pennestri, leading the study, said: "Experienced mothers perceived their sleep to be more fragmented than that of first-time mothers."

The team will now carry out further research to examine in more detail why more experienced mothers find it harder to sleep than new mums.

Prof Pennestri added: "Tension in the marital relationship may transpire if childcare is one-sided and not discussed collaboratively."

She suggested that healthcare providers should tailor lists of childcare tasks that divide the chores between couples or other family members depending on their circumstances.

Previous research has found having a child could disrupt your sleep for at least six years.

The study, carried out by the University of Warwick, found mothers lost an hour’s sleep a night in the first three months after giving birth, while fathers lost just 15 minutes.

And six years after birth mothers slept 20 minutes less – while fathers were still only deprived of 15 minutes a night.