Sleep and New Moms

While it is important to get adequate sleep during pregnancy, there never seems to be enough time for sleep after your little one arrives. Sleep disturbances are routine for the first few months of a new parent’s life. But when a new parent has trouble falling asleep during the time that baby is sleeping or begins waking too early in the morning with an inability to sleep later, it is time to consult with a health care provider. Healthy babies need healthy moms and dads.

It is especially important for new moms with depression to keep a careful eye on their sleep behavior and to receive treatment for sleep disturbances as early as possible. Research at the U-M Sleep & Chronophysiology Laboratory has shown that depressed mothers’ sleep problems can have ill effects on the sleep patterns of their babies—and poor sleep of both the moms and babies can be a risk factor for depression as the children age. It is very important that moms and their partners plan ahead for the lack of sleep that befalls new parents. Moms should not be afraid to ask for help when they need it and to make sure they get the sleep their bodies require.

Healthy Sleep Tips for New Moms (and Dads)

A Red Light at Night

Melatonin, or the “night hormone,” helps the body prepare for sleep.  Lights that are in the white and blue spectrum shut down the secretion of melatonin and actually alert the brain to respond, causing potential sleep problems. However, melatonin is not affected by lights in the red spectrum so if you need to use a light for nighttime bathroom breaks or for checking on a child or infant, choose a red light bulb. A red light, even a really bright one, is a better choice for teens who often study late into the evening or for new parents providing nighttime baby feedings. A way to remember: “red lights may stop sleep problems as well as traffic.”