TOP
Saturday,August 08,2020 20:51 PM
  • Home
  • Health
  • Sleep- You do not have to deprive yourself for the baby’s sake

Sleep- You do not have to deprive yourself for the baby’s sake

By Vision Reporter

Added 5th July 2009 03:00 AM

NEW mothers are easy to spot: The bloodshot eyes and bemused expressions are an instant tip-off.
Although the birth of a child is blissful, many mothers are taken aback by how exhausted they feel during the first months.

NEW mothers are easy to spot: The bloodshot eyes and bemused expressions are an instant tip-off.
Although the birth of a child is blissful, many mothers are taken aback by how exhausted they feel during the first months.

By Halima Shaban

NEW mothers are easy to spot: The bloodshot eyes and bemused expressions are an instant tip-off.
Although the birth of a child is blissful, many mothers are taken aback by how exhausted they feel during the first months.

Newborns usually require constant attention. They need to feed every hour or two and have their diapers changed.
As a new parent, you may feel compelled to dedicate every available hour to tending to your baby.

But do not forget that parents have needs too, especially when it comes to sleep. Without sleep, the body system cannot recharge.

Dr. William Dement, a physician and sleep specialist, in his book, The Promise of Sleep, notes that sleep is necessary for the nervous system to work properly.

Too little sleep causes drowsiness and lack of concentration. It also leads to impaired memory and poor physical performance.

Dr. Stephen Matovu, a neurophysician, says the brain has a chance to shut down and repair neurons and to exercise important neuronal connections that might otherwise deteriorate due to lack of activity.

Getting the sleep that you need is likely to enhance your overall quality of life. Yet as a mother, your newborn’s sleep patterns can disrupt and disturb your sleep.

Dement says sickness waits for sleep deprivation and takes advantage of a weakened immune system. Sleep is needed to regenerate certain parts of the body, especially the brain so that it continues to function properly.

“We need sleep to think clearly, react quickly and create memories. In fact, the pathways in the brain that help us learn and remember are active when we sleep.”

“Many newborns feed as often as every hour or two, leaving their moms struggling to stay alert during the day. Not only does the quantity of your sleep matter, but the quality of your sleep is important as well,” Matovu says.

“How well you rest and how well your body functions depend on your total sleep time and how much of the various stages of sleep you get each night.”

Dement notes that usually, sleepers pass through five stages: one, two, three, four and rapid eye movement sleep.

These stages progress from one to rapid eye movement and back to stage one.

“A complete sleep cycle takes an average of 90 to 110 minutes. The first sleep cycles each night have relatively short rapid eye movement and long periods of deep sleep, but later in the night, rapid eye movement periods lengthen and deep sleep time decreases,” Dement notes.

Matovu says our brain stays active throughout sleep, but different things happen during each stage.

For instance, certain stages of sleep are needed for us to feel well-rested and energetic and other stages help us make memories.

He says after periods of extended reduced sleep, neurons may begin to malfunction, visibly affecting a person’s behaviour.

Some organs, such as muscles, are able to regenerate even when a person is not sleeping as long as they are resting.

This could involve lying awake, but relaxed within a quiet environment.
On average, an adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep every night.

Newborns, on the other hand, sleep between 16 and 18 hours a day, while children in pre-school sleep between 10 and 12 hours a day.

Matovu says when you sleep only a couple of hours a night on an ongoing basis, you build up a sleep debt that can be hard to pay back. If your sleep debt persists over time, your health can suffer.

Dement says a parent loses about 350 hours of sleep at night over her baby’s first year. Napping is a great way to reduce a sleep debt. If you have gone a while without getting quality rest, the sleep you get even during a nap can be helpful.

Parents who feed their children on bottle milk need to learn to cope with frequent sleep interruptions. One of the benefits of bottle-feeding is that someone, other than the mother, can feed the baby.

Grace Makoko, a mother of three, says when she got her first-born, she had originally wanted to do all the duties, but she could not.

I had to get a house help, so that I could rest during the day. Getting up at night is very demanding, in fact I used to ask my husband to give me a hand so that I could sleep for a while.

I had to be humble and give up my unrealistic expectations of what motherhood was about.

“This is not a race, there is no prize for the person who gets up the most at night and who breastfeeds the longest. This is about tending to your child and keeping your sanity,” she says.

Matovu notes that newborns tend to sleep in fits and start for 16 to 20 hours over a 24-hour period, so it is virtually impossible for a parent to get more than a couple hours of rest at a time.

According to Dement, parents of newborns often lose about two hours of sleep per night until the baby is five months old. From then until their child turns two, parents usually lose an hour of sleep each night.

Fortunately, however, parents’ sleep deprivation eases once their child begins sleeping through the night (six to eight hours). For about 90% of babies, this begins at around three months.

“If you are woken up by a crying baby while you are dreaming, you wake up suddenly without going through all the sleep levels. This can make you disorientated, irritable and shaky,” Matovu says.

“Your baby won’t feel like that though because he is woken up naturally and is a light sleeper.”

Matovu says: “When you take a nap, you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly, so you get more sleep and refreshment for the shorter amount of time spent in bed. “When deprived of sleep, the longer the nap, the better.”

How to cope with sleep deprivation
Take a nap
Go to bed early
Prioritise on the domestic front
Accept any offers of help
Devote some time to yourself
Control your room temperature
Exercise
Relax before bedtime


Sleep- You do not have to deprive yourself for the baby’s sake

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author