science quantifies something many of us know to be true. So
listen up, new parents: Waking up repeatedly to care for a
little one isnít good for your moods and your ability to
attend to tasks, and itís just as bad as not sleeping much
you get up in the morning feeling more exhausted than when you
went to bed, youíve got research on your side.
at Tel Aviv University, in Israel, tracked 58 young adults in
two groups: those who got four hours of sleep and those who
got eight but had that sleep repeatedly interrupted by tasks
of at least 10 minutes ó not unlike waking to feed or soothe
an infant, or dealing with work during an on-call shift.
proportions of the population experience night wakings
regularly due to occupational demands, environmental
circumstances or the very common parental need to tend to a
child during the night," the researchers wrote recently
in the journal Sleep Medicine. They cited a study of nearly
30,000 parents in 11 countries that showed about a quarter
wake up twice a night with their children up to age 3, and an
additional 19.5 percent reported an average of three or more
interruptions "disrupt the natural sleep rhythm. The
impact of such night wakings on an individualís daytime
alertness, mood and cognitive abilities had never been
studied," Avi Sadeh, a professor at the universityís
School of Psychological Sciences said in a statement. Sadeh
directs a sleep clinic at the university. "Our study
demonstrates that induced night wakings, in otherwise normal
individuals, clearly lead to compromised attention and
research is important because many people donít realize how
their interrupted sleep affects them, said Vonda Dennis, owner
of the Stork Stops Here, a Los Angeles company that offers
home services for prenatal and postpartum care, primarily
theyíre already dealing with is going to be
exacerbated," Dennis said by phone; she is not connected
to the study. She cited one mother "who couldnít make a
decision on salad dressing without bursting into tears,"
and a surgeon parent whom she had to remind that going to work
sleep-deprived could be dangerous.
said she helps parents to settle the infant on a schedule as
early as possible.
and colleagues monitored sleep of volunteers in their homes.
The participants wore wristwatch-style devices that could
detect sleep and wakefulness. They also completed
questionnaires before going to bed and in the morning.
Everyone slept one eight-hour night.
those in one group went to bed for eight hours but were
awakened four times by telephone and told to complete a 10- to
15-minute computer task before returning to bed. In the other
group, participants went to bed for four hours. The effects
were assessed with various performance and mood tests.
interrupted sleep "leads to significant negative effects
on mood and sustained attention, which are indistinguishable
from those results from sleep restriction of four hours per
night," the researchers wrote.
area of research, the authors said, is new, and additional
work is needed to look at spontaneous versus induced
awakenings and other issues.