Mothers Take Up to 6 Years to Regain Sleep After Childbirth

According to recent studies, it can take up to six years for mothers to regain sleep after childbirth. Learn more in the following article.
Mothers Take Up to 6 Years to Regain Sleep After Childbirth

Last update: 05 August, 2022

With the birth of a baby, countless joys begin along with extraordinary sensations, but also great challenges. Therefore, rest is one of the aspects that affects parents the most and causes imbalances in routines. This was reflected in a study published in the journal Sleep, which clarifies details on how to regain sleep after childbirth.

Initially, it was thought that sleep disturbances in parents extended during the first months and even up to the baby’s first birthday. This time period clearly sets the stage for notable wear and tear on parents.

However, David Richter, Michael D. Krämer, and Sakari Lemola, together with another group of recognized experts in the area, came to the conclusion that sleep recovery doesn’t become a reality until 6 years after the birth of a child. In other words, a mother needs up to 6 years to regain sleep after childbirth.

How does the sleep of parents deteriorate?

Parents who've fallen asleep while holding their twin babies.
Parenting is an arduous and daily task that requires a lot of dedication. And many times, this doesn’t leave time for parents to take care of themselves.

The research revealed the gap that exists between the responsibilities assumed by the mother and the father. The deterioration of sleep in mothers is much higher than that experienced by fathers. Likewise, 2,541 women and 2,118 men were part of the analysis method.

Therefore, if we take into consideration that the first 3 months of the baby’s life are the critical point of greatest demands and minimum rest, mothers lost (on average) one hour of sleep each night, while fathers lost only 15 minutes.

This condition improves slightly as babies grow. However, during subsequent years, it became evident that the average sleep loss reached 20 minutes for mothers. In turn, the fathers’ loss of 15 minutes of rest is usually maintained.

It’s important to highlight that the study indicates that first-time fathers are the ones who see their sleep hours to a greater extent. This is due to inexperience, which contributes to greater instability in routines.

The scenario that makes it harder to regain sleep after childbirth

Beyond the basic conditions of feeding, care in case of illness, and hygiene of the baby, there’s a scenario that makes it especially complicated to regain sleep after childbirth, which is due to the lack of coordination in the little ones.

When there’s more than one child, the sleep preferences of the children may clash and result in the resting time of one being the active time of another. Even the need to sleep with the light on can be a trigger for sibling discomfort. In short, this prevents parents from finding synchrony for effective rest.

Thus, there are certain recommendations that can be carried out to reduce sleep disturbance. And although the 20 minutes of rest that mothers lose after overcoming the stages of greater wear and tear with the baby aren’t dangerous, they still alter performance in other activities.

A tired mother pouring herself coffee.

Recommendations to help regain sleep after childbirth

Regaining sleep after childbirth is understood to take between 4 and 6 years, according to the evolution of each child, but there are tips that can guide you to get better rest. Some of the main ones are the following:

  • Define a routine. This consists of scheduling children’s days with activities that are repeated at the same time each day, such as bathing, eating, brushing teeth, playing, and sleeping. This creates a stable recovery of schedules for the benefit of both parents and children.
  • Perfecting the place of rest. This is associated with a sleeping room with a pleasant temperature, a comfortable mattress, good pillows, darkness, and zero distractions.
  • Take care of your diet. Caffeine and sugar can help you maintain a good rhythm of activities, but they can also have a negative affect when it comes to falling asleep. With that in mind, an essential recommendation focuses on avoiding excesses and balancing food in order to take advantage of the moments when you have the opportunity to recover energy.

At the end of the day, being a mom is a great responsibility that results in a lack of sleep. At the same time, the imbalance in the division of responsibilities over children has become evident once again. Despite this, few doubt the fantastic experience of motherhood. Rest while you can!

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  • David Richter, Michael D Krämer, Nicole K Y Tang, Hawley E Montgomery-Downs, Sakari Lemola, Long-term effects of pregnancy and childbirth on sleep satisfaction and duration of first-time and experienced mothers and fathers, Sleep, Volume 42, Issue 4, April 2019, zsz015,