Baby gadgets 'rob modern mothers of sleep'
MODERN mothers are getting half the sleep of women in previous generations because they rely on gadgets, such as baby monitors, which make it impossible to switch off, new research has found.
While their own mothers managed a full six hours of sleep every night, today's parents average just three and a half, according to Mother & Baby magazine.
Nearly one in ten new mothers said the strain had nearly caused them to split with their partners. Nearly a third of respondents get even less than three hours and still average only five hours a night when the baby is 18 months old.
Elena Dalrymple, the editor of Mother & Baby, said: "Just as a watched kettle never boils, so a watched baby never sleeps, and rigging up complicated baby monitoring systems may just be a step too far.
"The pressure modern parents find themselves under is enormous, especially mums. It is primarily mums who do the night-time baby duty, yet many are also back at work full-time by the time baby is six months old. Dads need to pull their weight.
"Parents-to-be have no idea how the lack of sleep a baby brings will devastate their lives. If you're only getting three and a half hours' sleep night after night, and sometimes less, you'll most likely take your frustration and anger out on your partner.
"It's amazing so many relationships survive the onslaught of a baby, although, sadly, some never recover. It's shameful so many dads don't get up during the night, because if parents work as a team, they can get through this difficult time more harmoniously."
Half of those surveyed said that the tiredness caused rows, with 13 per cent nearly breaking up under the strain and 3 per cent actually doing so.
The survey found that a relationship is twice as likely to fall apart if mothers get less than four hours' sleep a night. But despite investing in gadgets such as musical cot mobiles, lullaby lights, rocking cradles and womb or dolphin music, parents are still struggling to get their babies to drop off.
Hi-tech devices, such as two-way baby alarms, breathing sensors and even video monitors of the baby in their cot mean that parents can never switch off.
Eight in ten parents (83 per cent) say lack of sleep puts them off sex, while 94 per cent of mothers claim that they would rather sleep when they get to bed than do anything else.
It takes an average of an hour and a half to get babies to bed, and mothers get up at least four times a night and spend another 50 minutes soothing the baby back to sleep, the survey found.
But while only 22 per cent of mothers think that their own mothers are right, the evidence speaks for itself, as their mothers and their mothers-in-law both claim to have managed six hours' sleep a night when they were bringing up their children.
Ms Dalrymple added: "A lot of the advice dished out by the older generation is, at best, dated and, at worst, downright dangerous, but given the fact that Grandma got almost twice as much sleep with her baby, she must have been doing something right.
"Half believed a baby should just be put in his cot and cry himself to sleep. While leaving a tiny baby to scream is not recommended nowadays, a mum should still aim to put baby to bed awake and let him settle himself to sleep.
"If a baby is always fed or rocked to sleep, it's scary for them when they wake up in the night and realise they are not in your arms."
A MOTHER WRITES...
MARGARET Thatcher, below, used to boast she could get by on five hours' sleep a night. Luxury. If you're the mother of a new baby or young child, you'll know that's practically a lie-in. And Mrs T only had a country to run. She wasn't at the beck and call of a tiny despot.
So to the weary hordes of catatonic mums, it will come as no surprise that yet another study has found new mothers average about three and a half hours' sleep a night and everything is going to pigs and whistles - work, sex, relationships, sanity.
No-one could have adequately described the strength-sapping, brain-numbing, limb-dragging tiredness a newborn can bring.
Sleep when your little one does, chirped the books. No, that's when you feed and clothe yourself. You count your sleep in segments: 15 minutes from 11:45pm to midnight, a whole hour from 2am to 3am. "Sleeping Through" becomes the Holy Grail.
You'll be dealing with this on your own, too. According to the latest survey, only 23 per cent of dads wake up when a baby cries.
The day will come, however, when your child does the unimaginable and wakes when it's light. The first time my daughter slept beyond 5am, I woke in a panic and poked her in case something was wrong.
Then you get complacent, have another one and it starts all over.
• Kate Miller is a mother of two and lives in Stirling.
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