Sleep Deprivation After the Birth of Your New Baby

By Ann Douglas


Feeling stupid-tired as a result of being up half the night with your newborn?

Your assessment of the cognitive fallout of missing out on all that sleep isn't far off the mark.

According to David Dinges, PhD, professor and chief of the Division of Sleep and Chronobiology in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, sleep deprivation takes a major toll on your ability to pay attention, problem solve, and respond quickly—and the effects worsen with each additional night of compromised sleep (four hours of sleep or less).

While you may not be able to convince your newborn to sleep through the night anytime soon (your baby is sleeping like a baby, after all), if you sleep when your baby sleeps, you should be able to clock a decent number of hours of sleep in a 24 hour period—even if you're simultaneously caring for other children.

A typical new parent clocks about 6.5 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period during the early weeks. If you're struggling to get that much sleep, it's time to call in favours from friends and family or hire some outside help so you can catch some zzzzzs. Sleep isn't a luxury; it's a necessity. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting, including The Mother of All Baby Books and Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler.