Parents' sleep still disrupted by children six years after birth - study

A child sleeps in a bed, wearing pink pyjamas.
A sleeping child. Photo credit: Getty

Parents lose sleep for six years after a child is born, a study has found.

Researchers at the University of Warwick made the discovery after speaking to nearly 5000 parents, and found most of them were still missing out on sleep after the kids were at school, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Six years after the child was born mothers were found to be sleeping 20 minutes less - while fathers were sleeping 15 minutes less a night.

But the worst time for sleep deprivation was in the first three months after birth, where mothers lost a full hour, and fathers still 15 minutes.

Researchers said parents were kept awake feeding and nappy changing in the beginning, but as the child grows the increased responsibly of parenting take over.

"While having children is a major source of joy for most parents it is possible that increased demands and responsibilities associated with the role as a parent lead to shorter sleep and decreased sleep quality even up to six years after birth of the first child," Lead researcher Dr Sakari Lemola said.

The study followed the sleep patterns of 4659 parents who had a child between 2008 and 2015 for over six years through yearly interviews.

It found that women tend to get less sleep, and for first-time mothers childbirth is "the most significantly sleep-altering life event".

Mothers who breastfeed their children were found to get the least sleep, on average around 14 minutes less than those who bottle-fed.