This is how long it takes new parents to catch up on sleep (hint: it’s a long time)

If you have a newborn and are wondering if relief from sleep deprivation is around the corner, don’t get too excited. Unfortunately, sleepless nights for parents last a lot longer than the bottles and diapers phase.

According to new research published in the journal Sleep, lack of sleep for parents may persist for up to six years after the birth of their first child. Yikes!

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the research also showed that moms were more strongly affected than dads. For both men and women, the worst of sleep deprivation hit its peak at the three-month mark, and both sleep duration and subjective satisfaction with sleep did not fully recover until their firstborn child was 6 years old. If you’ve just become a parent recently, that means you’ll have to wait until your child is headed to first grade to be able to rely on getting quality shuteye on a regular basis again.

The study was conducted in by researchers from the German Forum for Economic Research, University of Warwick and West Virginia University. They analyzed data from more than 4,600 German parents who had a child between 2008 to 2015.

settling into things with our son
Flickr | koadmunkee

Although the perception that parents of young children are always tired is well-documented, the researchers were still a bit surprised by the findings.

“We didn’t expect to find that, but we believe that there are certainly many changes in the responsibilities you have,” Sakari Lemola, Ph.D., a co-author of the research from the University of Warwick, told TipHero.

When it comes to getting enough sleep, each stage of parenthood can present its own unique challenges. Once your child is no longer breastfeeding, the toddler years can bring nightmares and resistance to bedtime. Think it’s over once they’re teenagers? Think again.

Parents who have been there and done that will tell you that wondering about their teens’ whereabouts close to curfew is more than enough to generate insomnia. Add concerns on how the kids will fare once they’re out of the house in a few short years, and staring at the ceiling for hours after lights out becomes a common activity.

So maybe this news isn’t so surprising for parents — except that six years might be a low estimate!