How Sleep Deprivation Hurts New Moms

Lack of sleep may affect new moms' brains and their response to stress.

If you're a new mom, you're probably tired most of the time.

Really tired.

Between nighttime feedings, fluctuating hormones, and a complete shift in your schedule, you're probably not getting the sleep you so desperately need. 

Unfortunately, all that lack of sleep may be altering your brain.

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According to a new study led by Dr. Pan Feng at Southwest University in Chongqing, China, and reported by PsychCentral, lack of sleep can lead to some major side effects.

Researchers hypothesized that sleep deprivation leads "to increased reactivity towards negatively perceived stimuli and generates an amplified fear response." Or, in other words, a person who is sleep deprived reacts negatively to perceived emotional stimulation and has more fearful reactions.

The researchers decided to test their theory on students at Southwest University, and what they found was discouraging for people, like new moms, who don't get enough sleep.

Students who had a sleep deficit reported higher fear ratings, and a skin test revealed greater emotional arousal - otherwise known as sweating, than those who had obtained eight or more hours of sleep.

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So, what does this mean for new parents? It means that lack of sleep can lead to a greater fear response when it comes to their children and other stressors in their daily lives, which can severely alter their lives and the decisions they make.

All is not lost, though, because a majority of parents report that their babies are sleeping through the night by 6 months of age. 

If you're struggling with ways to help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep, check out "How to Help Your Baby Sleep Longer Through the Night" for some tips and tricks on helping your baby (and you!) get a better night's sleep.   

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