Here is an interesting study of direct personal relevance, given the recent birth of my daughter.
Numerous studies have demonstrated important benefits of breastfeeding for infants and mothers, but a study in the March 2014 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine has added one to the list. Some of my former colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco compared the sleep patterns of 120 first-time mothers breastfeeding and using formula feeding at nighttime 1 month after the full-term birth of their children. There was no difference in the groups, other than their method of feeding. Interestingly, they found that the breastfeeding women had 30 minutes more sleep time at night (6.5 hours vs. 6 hours). This compared to between 6.5 and 7 hours of sleep per night during the last month of pregnancy. I believe this study’s findings, as the study had careful monitoring of sleep time, with a test called actigraphy that basically uses a wristwatch-sized device to determine sleep time (relying on measuring movement to distinguish wakefulness from sleep).
Hitting close to home with a way to improve sleep
I chose to work in the treatment of sleep disorders for many reasons, including the fact that I can relate to my patients because I enjoy a good night’s sleep. My wife was fortunate in that she had relatively normal sleep until the last month of her pregnancy. Obviously, the arrival of a child is an amazing, wonderful event, but the challenge of caring for your child is magnified by sleep deprivation. Again, we have been blessed to have a daughter who sleeps well through the night, but I know many parents are not as lucky. These study results provide even more support for breastfeeding. What new mother would not want to look at their adorable babies, smiling themselves because they were more refreshed with an extra half hour of sleep?