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Study Objectives: To examine the changes in mothers' and fathers' sleep satisfaction and sleep duration across pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, and the postpartum period of up to six years after birth; it also sought to determine potential protective and risk factors for sleep during that time.
Methods: Participants in a large population-representative panel study from Germany reported sleep satisfaction and sleep duration in yearly interviews. During the observation period (2008-2015), 2,541 women and 2,118 men reported the birth of their first, second, or third child and provided longitudinal data for analysis. Fixed-effects regression models were used to analyze changes in sleep associated with childbirth.
Results: Sleep satisfaction and duration sharply declined with childbirth and reached a nadir during the first three months postpartum, with women more strongly affected (sleep satisfaction reduction compared with pre-pregnancy: women, 1.81 points on a 0 to 10 scale, d = 0.79 vs. men, 0.37 points, d = 0.16; sleep duration reduction compared with pre-pregnancy: women, 62 min, d = 0.90 vs. men, 13 min, d = 0.19). In both women and men, sleep satisfaction and duration did not fully recover for up to six years after the birth of their first child. Breastfeeding was associated with a slight decrease in maternal sleep satisfaction (0.72 points, d = 0.32) and duration (14 min, d = 0.21). Parental age, household income, and dual vs. single parenting were unrelated, or only very weakly related, to improved sleep.
Conclusion: Following the sharp decline in sleep satisfaction and duration in the first months postpartum, neither mothers' nor fathers' sleep fully recovers to pre-pregnancy levels up to six years after the birth of their first child.
David Richter,Michael D Krämer,Nicole K Y Tang,Hawley E Montgomery-Downs,Sakari Lemola