New mums still excessively sleepy after four months

August 1, 2014, Queensland University of Technology
New mums still excessively sleepy after four months
A new CARRS-Q study has found sleepiness is still common for new mums four months after giving birth.

(Medical Xpress)—New mums are being urged to be cautious about returning to work too quickly, after a QUT study found one in two were still excessively sleepy four months after giving birth.

Dr Ashleigh Filtness, from QUT's Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Queensland (CARRS-Q), studied the sleep patterns and tiredness of postpartum and found despite new mums recording stable night sleep times at 18 weeks, they continued to report being excessively tired.

The CARRS-Q study, published in PLoS One, followed 33 healthy new mums who recorded their postpartum in 15 minute increments during weeks 6, 12 and 18.

"Sleep disruption strongly influences daytime function, with sleepiness recognised as a risk-factor for people performing critical and dangerous tasks," she said.

Dr Filtness said the study had significant implications for decisions-makers about when women should return to work, with current government paid entitlements ceasing at 18 weeks.

"This brings into question whether four months parental leave is sufficient to ensure daytime sleepiness has diminished to a manageable level before returning to work," she said.

"It is important when developing regulations for parental leave entitlements that policy makers take into account the high prevalence of excessive daytime sleepiness experienced by new mothers.

"With the birth of every baby the new mother must adjust to the demands of parenting and one aspect of that is to remain functional while experiencing potentially severe sleep disruption.

"To put this into context, the assessment tool used to determine new mums' sleepiness is also used by GPs to determine clinically relevant levels of sleepiness.

"If any other otherwise healthy person presented to a doctor with this degree of sleepiness they would likely have been offered advice regarding implications for daytime impairment including the impact on sustaining attention and decision making."

Dr Filtness said the study also found while new mums were still waking on average twice a night to attend to their babies at 6, 12 and 18 weeks - their total sleep time was about 7 hours and 20 minutes.

She said Australian new mothers actually slept more than the average American worker (6h 53mins).

"So while postpartum women experienced disturbed sleep, they didn't necessarily experience total reduced sleep time," she said.

"What we found was that inevitably, new mothers will wake in the night to attend to their infant and the number of times they wake remains consistent during the first 18 postpartum weeks.

"Sleep disruption reduced over time and it appears this was driven by a reduction in the time it took for new mums to return to sleep, suggesting improved efficiency by mothers at settling their infant or the development of the infant's circadian rhythm.

"These findings highlight the importance of sleep quality as opposed to sleep quantity, especially during the first 12 weeks."

"Soon-to-be mums should be aware of the importance of their own sleep and consider how they are going to preserve their own during the first few months of caring for a baby," she said.

Explore further: Study focuses on new mums' sleepiness and injury risk on the road

More information: Filtness AJ, MacKenzie J, Armstrong K (2014) "Longitudinal Change in Sleep and Daytime Sleepiness in Postpartum Women." PLoS ONE 9(7): e103513. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103513

Related Stories

Study focuses on new mums' sleepiness and injury risk on the road

May 22, 2013
New mothers throughout Australia are needed to help QUT sleep researchers investigate whether the disrupted sleep experienced by mothers when caring for their new baby raises the risk of injury while driving.

Study of twins discovers gene mutation linked to short sleep duration

July 31, 2014
Researchers who studied 100 twin pairs have identified a gene mutation that may allow the carrier to function normally on less than six hours of sleep per night. The genetic variant also appears to provide greater resistance ...

Early parenting routines may harm breastfeeding

February 17, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—New collaborative research between Newcastle and Swansea University indicates that mothers who choose to follow strict parenting routines for sleep and feeding in early infancy are less likely to breastfeed ...

Sleep disruption for breastfed babies is temporary

October 17, 2011
While breastfed babies initially awaken more during the night for feedings, their sleep patterns -- falling asleep, staying asleep and total sleep time -- stabilize in later infancy and become comparable to non-breastfed ...

Study finds later school start times improve sleep and daytime functioning in adolescents

January 15, 2014
Julie Boergers, Ph.D., a psychologist and sleep expert from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center, recently led a study linking later school start times to improved sleep and mood in teens. The article, titled "Later ...

Recommended for you

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

Study reveals what sleep talkers have to say

January 12, 2018
A team of researchers with members from several institutions in France has conducted a study regarding sleep talking and has found that most sleep talking is not only negative in nature, but involves a large amount of swearing. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.