by: Daphne Nancholas
Did you know that newborn babies need 21 hours sleep a day and children from six months to two years of age need at least 12 hours sleep? Sleep deprivation can cause problems for everyone in the family: fractious babies during the day, exhausted mothers and an anxious, stressful atmosphere.
Sleep starvation is a huge problem for today’s parents. A survey of 2,000 new parents and 2,000 people aged 55 to 65 was carried out by Mother and Baby and Yours magazines.
It found today's parents try all kinds of things to get their babies to sleep through the night, including taking the infant into their own bed. In contrast, parents in the 1960s and 1970s tended to say their babies had slept peacefully in their own cots.
New mothers of young babies reported that, on average, they only have three and a half hours sleep a night, compared to five hours which the older generation said they used to get.
Two thirds of those surveyed said this "sleep starvation" left them feeling bad-tempered, with the same proportion reporting irritation with their partner. Other problems included being tearful, forgetful, depressed, more accident prone or clumsy, unable to function properly, and irritable with their baby.
So what’s different?
In the 60s and 70s roles tended to be more clear-cut. Fathers went to work and earned the money, mothers stayed at home and brought up the family.
Mothers today often feel they are expected to bring up the family and earn money doing something interesting. This situation can create anxiety: family members can often be living miles away from each other, so there’s very little support for the parents.
30-40 years ago you probably had relatives living nearby who could help with babysitting and be there to offer advice – generally to calm the situation. I saw a lot of young families while running a homeopathic clinic in Bristol. They rarely had family support nearby. Here in Cornwall it is noticeable that there is more family support, possibly because this is primarily a rural area, strong in traditions.
Anxiety breeds anxiety. If you’re feeling tense and anxious the chances are that your baby will pick up on this and react in a similar way, so you get caught in a vicious circle. When other family members come home they pick up on it too.
Obviously when you’re getting up several times a night to breast-feed you’re going to feel very tired, but there is a great difference between being tired and tense and tired and relaxed.
The chances are that if you have periods of time when you can relax then your quality of sleep will improve. Your baby will pick up on this and learn to relax as well and your baby’s quality of sleep will improve because of this.
Sometimes a baby can be irritable simply because he or she hasn’t had enough sleep. When a young baby isn’t sleeping at all well it can affect the whole family. Obviously with new born babies disruption is expected but when the problem persists, sometimes for years, the results can be devastating.
Benefits of good sleep
While your baby is sleeping his or her cells are being regenerated, so the quality and amount of sleep is very important in the development of your infant.
Helpful Tips For Overcoming Sleep Problems For Your Baby And You
About The Author
Daphne Nancholas is a registered homeopath and for the past 10 years has specialised in the female cycle, including pregnancy, birth and babies.
Her book, Taking Off, a handbook for newly qualified homeopathic practitioners was published in 2003. Her website is: www.daphnehomeopath.co.uk.
Daphne and her partner Graham Smith have written a relaxation CD especially for mother and baby - the website is: www.calmtime.co.uk.
Calmtime helps during pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and anytime your baby is restless, irritable and/or has sleep problems. Helps all the family relax.