Sleep Loss: Responsible for Weight Gain in New Moms
his book, Sleep Thieves, author Stanley Coren states that parents lose between
400-750 hours of sleep during baby’s first year of life, which is the equivalent
of losing 50-94 full 8-hour nights of sleep. As recent research suggests, the
toll it takes on the child and the parents is no laughing matter.
A new study published by The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
shows a correlation between sleep loss and an increase in
appetite and the desire to
Research conducted by Kaiser Permanente/Harvard Medical School on sleep loss and
weight gain shows that new moms with non-consolidated sleep are three
times more likely to weigh an extra 11 pounds by baby’s first birthday. Moms
whose babies keep them up at night are also more likely to suffer from
postpartum depression and new dads suffer too, as the ongoing stress leads
to a disconnect between the parents. Attention,
creativity, decision-making, problem solving and general performance levels are
all affected by sleep loss which impacts both parents’ performance at work.
Sleep deprivation also negatively impacts health--weakening the
immune system, elevating
blood pressure, and increasing inflammation.
All new mothers experience some sleep loss following
child birth due to plunging estrogen and progesterone (Wiley-Blackwell).
The first couple
of months are the most sleep deprived. Postpartum women are caught
in a paradox. Their hormones cause them to lose sleep, along with a
newborn that is trying to adjust and needs middle of the night
feedings. The resulting sleep loss can cause depression, and as
sleep quality worsens depression symptoms increase. Going without
sleep leads to a sense of being out of control, frustration, and
Tips For Getting a Good Sleep
Although there is simply no replacement for a good night's sleep, here are some
simple ways of coping with sleep loss in the short term.
with newborns should take advantage of any opportunity to take a nap-
Enlist the help of family or friends willing to baby-sit so you can nap.
Eventually a time does come when babies start sleeping for longer periods of
time and wake up less often. Once you’re at the point that your baby is
sleeping more regularly during the night, it’s important to take care of
Try to avoid drinking caffeine after noon. It could affect your
ability to get to sleep at bedtime. If you're
breastfeeding, you'll have to watch your caffeine intake. Try a tall
glass of cold water as a substitute pick-me-up.
Don't watch TV right before bed- Many people use the television
to fall asleep or relax at the end of the day. Not only does the light
suppress melatonin production, but television can actually stimulate the
mind, rather than relaxing it. Try listening to music or audio books
instead, or practicing
relaxation exercises. If your favorite TV show is on late at night,
record it for viewing earlier in the day.
Lower the temperature of your bedroom- Your body needs to cool
down in order to fall asleep and stay asleep, so do what you can to make
your room cool.
Avoid alcohol and nicotine- Many people think that a nightcap
before bed will help them sleep. While it may make you fall asleep faster,
alcohol reduces your sleep quality, waking you up later in the night. To
avoid this effect, so stay away from alcohol in the hours before bed.
Nicotine is a stimulant, which disrupts sleep. Additionally, smokers
actually experience nicotine withdrawal as the night progresses, making it
hard to sleep.
Don't drink fluids within two hours before bed- Drinking lots of
water, juice, tea, or other fluids may result in frequent bathroom trips
throughout the night. Caffeinated drinks, which act as diuretics, only make
Avoid taking a hot bath before bed- There is a lot of advice that
says take a hot bath right before bed to relax yourself, but since the body
needs to lower its temperature in order to fall asleep a hot bath will
actually keep you up. If you find a hot bath relaxing, finish your bath at
least two hours before your bedtime so that your body has enough time to
cool down. Make sure to give your body at least an hour to cool down after a
bath and prior to going to bed.
Establish bedtime routine. Also wake up and go to bed at the same
time each day. Exercise every day (but not right before bed).
Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and make sleep more restful-
Don’t just “exercise”, but do so intensely, to the point of feeling physical
exhaustion. At the end of the day, this is probably the single best thing
for helping induce deep, restorative sleep. When I say “intensely”, I mean
intense relative to your capability. For some this may mean running 5 miles,
for others it may mean a brisk 20 minute walk that elevates the heart rate.
Physical tiredness is absolutely essential to getting a good night’s sleep.
Relaxing exercises such as
stretching can help promote sleep.
Avoid large meals right before bed- Try to make dinnertime
earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed.
Fatty foods take a lot of work for your stomach to digest and may keep you
up. Also be cautious when it comes to spicy or acidic foods in the evening,
as they can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.
Try not to worry about unfinished chores or other business.
Staying up late, losing sleep doesn’t help. It just makes you more tired the
next day and less productive. When you’re trying to survive dishes, laundry,
vacuuming, etc. are not that important. If you have anxiety explore options
stress management, or speak to a doctor about medication or
Use blackout or heavy curtains- The darker it is, the better
you’ll sleep. Cover electrical displays, use heavy curtains or shades to
block light from windows, or try an eye mask to cover your eyes.
If you are finding it hard to fall back asleep, try a relaxation technique
such as visualization,
deep breathing, or
meditation, which can be done without even getting out of bed. Remind
yourself that although they’re not a replacement for sleep, rest and relaxation
still help rejuvenate your body. Remember,
breastfeeding is best for your baby. It supplies all the nutrients your baby
needs. It’s also best for your waistline. Breastfeeding burns about 500 calories
a day, so if you watch what you eat, you’ll lose about a pound a week.
Dated 30 March 2013