I Thought I Knew Everything About Sleep, Then I Became a Parent

I Thought I Knew Everything About Sleep, Then I Became a Parent

Oct 5, 2023

Oct 5, 2023

The Sleep Deprivation Paradox of New Parenthood:

From sleep research at Stanford to a psychologist specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), I've navigated the intricate maze of improving sleep. I've counseled clients through everything from nocturnal work shifts to chronic sleep disorders, believing myself prepared for any sleep challenge—until a baby's unpredictable sleep patterns blindsided me, taking me into an entirely new arena of sleep difficulties.

The Real Impact

Exhaustion isn't just a nuisance; it contributes significantly to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Lack of sleep can heighten irritability, magnify negative moods, and even increase the risk of accidents. In the context of new parenthood, these consequences can negatively affect not just you but also your approach to caregiving. The stress stemming from sleep deprivation may make emotional regulation more difficult, consequently impacting the quality of your parenting.

The Professional vs. Personal Experience

For expecting parents, don't let this deter you. Every baby is different, and many parents see improvements in sleep after the first 3-4 months. However, the early days of new parenthood are grueling. As a professional in the field of sleep therapy, I found it challenging to apply my expertise to my own situation.

The Takeaway

Sleep deprivation isn't just a discomfort—it's a health issue. If you can, get help, even if it's just for a night. Your mental and physical health will thank you. Employers and family leave policies also need to acknowledge the real impact of sleep deprivation when parents return to work.

Conclusion

Whether you're a seasoned parent or expecting your first child, sleep is crucial. It shapes our emotional well-being and mental health. To manage sleep deprivation, consider consulting a pediatrician, hiring a postpartum doula, or care from a therapist specializing in sleep. Remember, the challenges of new parenthood spare no one—not even those well-versed in sleep science.

Warmly,

Dr. Holly

References:

McQuillan, M. E., Bates, J. E., Staples, A. D., & Deater-Deckard, K. (2019). Maternal stress, sleep, and parenting. Journal of Family Psychology, 33(3), 349–359. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30762410/

Okun, M. L., Mancuso, R. A., Hobel, C. J., Schetter, C. D., & Coussons-Read, M. (2018). Poor sleep quality increases symptoms of depression and anxiety in postpartum women. Journal of behavioral medicine, 41(5), 703–710. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30030650/


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Disclaimer

This website serves informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional psychological advice. Engaging with the content here does not establish a doctor-patient relationship with Holly Batchelder, PhD. For any specific concerns, consult a qualified healthcare provider. Electronic communications with Holly Batchelder, PhD, are not considered privileged doctor-patient interactions. Holly Batchelder, PhD, PLLC © Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

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Online Therapy
Proud Member of TherapyDen

Serving PSYPACT states via telehealth

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Disclaimer

This website serves informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional psychological advice. Engaging with the content here does not establish a doctor-patient relationship with Holly Batchelder, PhD. For any specific concerns, consult a qualified healthcare provider. Electronic communications with Holly Batchelder, PhD, are not considered privileged doctor-patient interactions. Holly Batchelder, PhD, PLLC © Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

© Holly Batchelder, PhD PLLC

Online Therapy
Proud Member of TherapyDen

Serving PSYPACT states via telehealth

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Disclaimer

This website serves informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional psychological advice. Engaging with the content here does not establish a doctor-patient relationship with Holly Batchelder, PhD. For any specific concerns, consult a qualified healthcare provider. Electronic communications with Holly Batchelder, PhD, are not considered privileged doctor-patient interactions. Holly Batchelder, PhD, PLLC © Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

© Holly Batchelder, PhD PLLC