Lack of sleep for new parents is no laughing matter
We casually joke about it but the cumulative effects of not getting relief are dangerous.
Some sleep facts from Sleep Expert & Neuroscientist, Dr. Matthew Walker: ~One study found that, with one week of 6 hours of sleep per night, 711 genes were distorted in their activity. Half of those genes experienced an increase in activity – these were genes related to the promotion of tumors, genes related to chronic inflammation, and genes associated with stress (and therefore cardiovascular disease). Half of these genes were suppressed – many of these were genes related to immune response, so we become immune deficient with a lack of sleep.
~With less sleep, leptin gets suppressed, and ghrelin gets ramped up.
~When you’re starved – ghrelin levels are high, and this also boosts dopamine which keep you awake.
~People sleeping 4-5 hours a night will on average eat 200-300 extra calories each day. It will also cause you to eat more of the wrong things.
While the fact that new mothers are often sleep-deprived will surprise few, the concern is poor sleep is considered to be a risk factor for depression, and depression may in turn contribute to or exacerbate sleep disturbance. Several studies indicate that postpartum women with depressive symptoms experience poorer sleep quality, less total sleep time, longer sleep latency (longer time to fall asleep), less time in REM sleep, and more sleep disturbance than women without depressive symptoms.” ~Women’s Health Magazine
What does all of this mean? Sure, sleep when the baby sleeps if that works for you and your family. But for many it doesn’t. And, yes, sure....this is temporary stage but none of that really helps when you JUST. NEED. SLEEP.
At a minimum, sleep deprivation contributes to feeling really ungrounded and vulnerable for sickness. Eating supportive foods that help balance hormones and immunity so a tiny amount of sleep deprivation damage can be mitigated.
This hopefully can be improved with help from a postpartum doula or overnight help if this is feasible. Some other ways to offset postpartum sleep deprivation: 🛌>> If you can't sleep at least lie down & rest. 📲 >> If you can't shut out everything, try to stay away from electronics. Turn off notifications and sounds and maybe pick up a book or try just following your breathe for a bit. 🍽 >> Eat! A full tummy helps shut down brain stressor as it meets a basic need when others aren't always being met. Being tired AND hungry is the worst and a dangerous combo. 💤 >> Sleep in shifts or ask a partner or doula to take on some nighttime feedings. If you are breastfeeding at night, have them monitor so you can feed safely while sleepy. 👨👩👧👧 >> I can't stress this one enough. Keep guests to a minimum. No really, I know every person you know wants to come over and touch the baby. This is very much the opposite of ideal. While help with the baby is welcome, parents often feel the need to host people (reminder about being a good visitor!). This definitely puts more work on them when they can be resting. There is plenty of time to get to know babe later on….NOT while healing and parental bonding is happening. 🙄 >> This too shall pass. Not really helpful in the immediate sense but sometimes looking at the big picture makes it feel more manageable.
It goes without saying that sleep is incredibly important to heal. This is a scientific fact. Bring people into your life that can make this easier. ❤ The truth is Mama this part is hard - just know there is help out there.