We all know that having a baby changes everything. Get ready for long days, longer nights, puke-stained clothing and more dirty diapers than any living thing should ever be able to produce.
But more than just long nights, a new study suggests that new parents won’t get a good night of sleep for up to six years after welcoming that little bundle of joy into the world.
Researchers from the University of Warwick in the U.K. studied the sleep patterns of more than 4,600 German parents who welcomed a child between 2008 and 2015. Their findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal, Sleep.
To no one’s surprise, the study found that moms of newborns lose the most sleep. On average, mothers reported losing more than an hour of sleep each night in the first three months after having a child. That number dropped just slightly to losing 40 minutes of sleep nightly in the first year. Women who breastfed lost even more sleep for longer periods of time, and reported the worst sleep satisfaction of anyone studied.
Fathers reported losing only 15 minutes of sleep nightly in the first three months following childbirth.
Both mothers and fathers in the study reported disrupted sleep patterns for up to six years after the birth of their first child, with mothers still losing an average of 20 minutes of sleep per night, and fathers staying steady at 15.
According to the study, sleep satisfaction was never fully restored to that which it was postpartum.
“While having children is a major source of joy for most parents it is possible that increased demands and responsibilities associated with the role as a parent lead to shorter sleep and decreased sleep quality even up to 6 years after birth of the first child,” author Sakari Lemola of the University of Warwick said in a statement.
Participants reported giving birth to their first, second or third child during the research period. The study found that disrupted sleep patterns were greater in first-time parents along with breastfeeding moms.