Sydney: Are you a new mother and cannot figure out why you are still sleepy and tired at work even four months after birth? Get your maternal leave extended to catch some sleep.
A new study finds one in two new mothers is excessively sleepy four months after giving birth, urging new mums to be cautious about returning to work too quickly.
"Sleep disruption strongly influences daytime function with sleepiness recognised as a risk-factor for people performing critical and dangerous tasks," said Ashleigh Filtness from Queensland University of Technology's Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety - Queensland (CARRS-Q).
Filtness studied the sleep patterns and tiredness of postpartum mums and found that despite new mums recording stable night sleep times at 18 weeks, they continued to report being excessively tired.
The study followed 33 healthy new mums who recorded their postpartum sleep patterns in 15 minute increments during weeks 6, 12 and 18.
"This brings into question whether four months' leave is sufficient to ensure that daytime sleepiness has dimished to a manageable level before returning to work," she added.
With the birth of every baby, the new mother must adjust to the demands of parenting and one aspect of that is to remain functional while experiencing potentially severe sleep disruption.
"What we found was that inevitably, new mothers will wake in the night to attend to their infant and the number of times they wake remains consistent during the first 18 postpartum weeks," Filtness added.
Soon-to-be mums should be aware of the importance of their own sleep and consider how they are going to preserve their own sleep during the first few months of caring for a baby, researchers advised in the study published in the journal PLoS One.