Sleep deprivation in parents is dangerous

Why parents need their beauty sleep too

It might be easy to spot new parents just by looking at them. Their bloodshot eyes and overall zombie like state is a dead giveaway. What else could you expect from people who sleep for about two hours a night every night?

The numbers that come with sleep are not new to anyone. Everyone knows that adults should get at least seven to nine hours of sleep daily1. But knowing is not usually enough to make most people follow those guidelines. In fact, the CDC pointed out in 2013 that only a third of Americans get the recommended number of hours of sleep2. Among those who do not are couples with newborns.

Why New Parents lose sleep

First things first, nothing can prepare you for the lack of sleep when you have a newborn.  For anyone who has had children, the hassle of the first few months might be familiar to you. A baby will only sleep for about three to four hours during any one period of time. When the baby is awake, the new mother has to be awake to breastfeed it. The father could be awake to bottle feed or change the diapers. Both parents have to always be on call when the baby cries out. When they are not doing some baby chore or the other, the parents of a newborn will be worrying about it. Is the baby too quiet? Does he or she need something else? Is he or she too cold or feverish? The combination of the duties of caring for the child as well as worrying about it makes most parents lie awake in bed.  Even after tending to the babies needs, when you go back to sleep you might not be able to sleep and lay awake for hours.

Over time, these parents miss out on hours of sleep night after night. Their bodies turn lethargic, and they become sleep deprived3.

Why a Newborn’s Parents also need their sleep

We all know that sleep is important to the growth and development of a child. It keeps them healthy and alert. Well, the same goes for the infant’s parents.

Many couples with newborns will stack up chores when their baby is awake. New mothers and fathers will then choose to tackle the chores when the infant is asleep. According to health experts, this coping mechanism is not healthy4. It leaves the body and mind with little time to rest and rejuvenate. Over time such parents will feel tired and to some extent, irritated. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation-associated mood swings increase the risk of parents abusing their newborns5.

Experts have also shown time and again that sleep deprivation in a newborn parents’ makes their health worse. In some cases, the sleep deprived couple have developed long-time insomnia. Because their brain cells are not rejuvenated by sleep, the die off. This death of cells causes mental health problems in such parents, making them incoherent and forgetful6. Lack of sleep has also been linked to faster aging among parents, signaled by uneven skin tones and development of fine lines. The aging occurs as cells are unable to repair themselves because the mind and body are tired. When the exhaustion goes on for a long time, it affects the work that parents produce and they can end up losing their jobs or accidentally hurting themselves.

Other conditions caused by lack of sleep are obesity and health conditions like cardio diseases and diabetes7.

New parents are at risk of developing all these conditions so long as they are sleep deprived. Therefore, they should try getting some rest so that they can stay healthy enough to keep their children healthy.  Do your best to get some sleep people.  You can’t skimp on sleep forever!


  1. org. (2017). National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2017].
  2. (2017). CDC Press Releases. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2017].
  3. Daub, T. (2017). Sleep study shows new moms are dangerously exhausted for months. [online] PBS NewsHour. Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2017].
  4. (2017). Sleep Deprivation and New Parents. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2017].
  5. Anon, (2017). Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation.
  6. gov. (2017). Sleep & Memory – Science Nation | NSF – National Science Foundation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2017].
  7. (2017). Why sleep is important and what happens when you don’t get enough. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2017].