According to a study published today in the May 1 issue of the journal SLEEP, the patterns of sleep differ depending on Mom’s depression or lack there of. The overall amount of sleep seems to be the same but infants with non-depressed mothers sleep longer at night (up to 97 minutes to be precise) and also seem to sleep for longer periods during the day.
Infants of depressed moms seem to wake more often .
Researchers hypothesize that this is related to the stress hormone, cortisol. When mom is pregnant and stressed, more cortisol crosses the placenta. And if you’re depressed postpartum, that plays a role as well.
Now before you freak out and think that your child’s sleep patterns are wrecked for life here, the lead author, Roseanne Armitage, MD, has news for you. The “damage” may be reversible.
“We do think that we could develop a behavioral and environmental intervention to improve entrainment of sleep and circadian rhythms in the high risk infants,” said Armitage. “However, whether it is maternal hormones that “cause” the sleep problems in infants is not yet known. It could genetic, hormonal, or both. Regardless of the cause, they may still be modifiable since brain regulation is very plastic and responsive in childhood.”
Now, breathe a little sigh of relief. See? the fact that baby isn’t sleeping ISN’T because you’re not doing something right or wrong. It’s not because there’s something wrong with your baby. It’s hormonal. Totally out of your control. I don’t know about you, but I am always able to put things into a better perspective when I understand the explanation behind them.
Frankly, this explains a LOT.
It explains why my first daughter never wanted to sleep for very long and why she wouldn’t sleep a lot at night. It also explains why our second daughter did the same thing. And last but not least, because I did not have PPD with our third, it explains why he’s such an amazing sleeper and has been from the start. Thank GOD it wasn’t me (or baby)! Phew!