Mothers struggle with under four hours’ sleep

UK Telegraph 13 September 2007
Mothers today manage only three and a half hours’ sleep a night – half the quantity their parents had – because they cannot settle their baby to sleep, according to research. Half of adult women say sleep deprivation has put their relationship under strain, with one in 10 almost splitting from their partner as a result of the problems it causes.The survey of 3,000 mothers, for Mother & Baby magazine, says that as a result of lack of sleep, mothers who return to work when their children are very young are “shattered”. Today’s grandmothers say they managed six hours’ sleep a night after having a baby and had plenty of advice on getting an infant to bed. This included leaving it to cry for longer (45 per cent), giving it a dummy (40 per cent), establishing a better regime (26 per cent) and giving up breastfeeding (33 per cent). By contrast modern mothers are “on their knees”, managing only three-and-a-half hours’ sleep during the first four months following birth, then just five hours a night when the baby is 18 months old. This is despite their trying all sorts of gadgets, from musical cot mobiles (69 per cent) to rocking cradles (39 per cent).One in 10 goes so far as to download “womb” or “dolphin” music from the internet. Parents are also investing in high-tech sleeping toys and other devices, from “two-way baby alarms” (74 per cent) and “breathing sensors” (19 per cent) to “video monitors of their baby in the cot” (12 per cent). These are meant to put parents’ minds at rest, but some parents can never switch off.