The toll of sleepless nights for new mothers equates to aging SEVEN YEARS, research suggests
- Research suggests the toll sleepless nights take from new mothers with newborns
- Being married or living with a partner helped keep the new mothers young
- Researcher Dr. Judith Carroll urged new mothers to go to sleep when they can
As if dealing with midnight feedings and diaper changes at three in the morning wasn’t difficult enough, scientists now say sleepless nights can turn new mothers up to seven years old.
Research suggests that sleep deprivation accelerates aging in the first six months after a baby is born.
Getting less than seven hours of sleep a night on a regular basis can age a woman’s body between three and seven years, the study found.
Researcher Dr. Judith Carroll urged new mothers to keep their eyes closed when they can – and seek the help of grandparents whenever possible.
As if dealing with midnight feeds and 3am diaper changes wasn’t difficult enough, scientists now say sleepless nights can turn new moms up to 7 years old [File photo]
In the first study of its kind, she asked 33 mothers of one-year-old children how much sleep they had been in since their babies were born.
More than half were given less than seven hours a night.
Dr. Carroll also took samples of the women’s blood and analyzed it for small changes in their DNA. These changes have been linked to aging, as well as age-related illnesses, such as heart disease, and a higher risk of early death.
The results showed that the first six months after the birth of a baby are crucial. Lack of sleep during that time accelerated aging – and the risk of ill health. Poor sleep over the next few months seemed to have no effect.
Dr. Carroll of the University of California, Los Angeles, said this may be because caring for a newborn is particularly stressful on the body.
It’s also possible that when the baby was between seven and 12 months old, sleep deprivation had made the mothers older too, but it was too early to show it in the blood tests.
As for the new dads, Dr. Carroll thinks they will also age due to lack of sleep – but to a lesser extent, if their partners do most of the daycare.
Obesity also caused biological aging. However, being married or living with a partner helped keep the new mothers young, reports Sleep Health magazine.
Dr. Carroll said larger studies are needed to confirm the findings. It is also important to check if the aging is permanent or if a better night’s sleep in later years cancels it.
She recommends that new moms sleep when they can. “If the baby falls asleep at 7 or 8 in the evening and the mother is tired too, it might be better to just go to bed than try to stay up,” she said.
‘Having more sleeping accommodation is also important. If a partner, friend, or grandparent is available, I would encourage them to use this help so Mom can go back to bed. ‘
Clare Byam-Cook, a former midwife who has helped thousands of women breastfeed and put their babies to sleep, said: “There is not enough emphasis on the importance of mothers taking care of themselves and their babies. But Dr. Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert, said new moms need not worry.
“There is no doubt that having a newborn will disturb your sleep,” he said. But were the changes the researchers found a sign of aging or a sign that the women had just had a terrible six months? It would be assumed that after a million years of evolution, the body is prepared for motherhood and can then recover. ‘
As for the new fathers, Dr. Carroll thinks they will also age due to lack of sleep, but less so if their partners do most of the daycare.