Friday, November 19, 2010

gender differences in sleep disturbances

An interesting new piece of research showing yet another area where moms are putting in more than their share – in getting up in the middle of the night to care for children.

I wonder how much of this discrepancy is due to breastfeeding. While breastfeeding, the burden is pretty much on the mom to deal with middle-of-the-night feedings, either by getting up, or by pumping enough milk so that dad can give a bottle in the night. Dad can get up to change the diaper before the feeding (for me, that was a big help) but still, dad’s sleep disturbance will be 10-15 minutes and mom’s will probably be 15-60. At what point does a well-rested mother, who can be a better parent during the day and/or better breadwinner for her family outweigh the benefits of breastfeeding?

Assuming both parents are equally capable of meeting the child’s need, an author advises, “For parents of young children, the best approach might be discussions and negotiations about whose turn it is to get up with the baby tonight."

I have to thank Mark for introducing the idea of earplugs. It seemed a bit cruel to me at first, to tune out the sounds of your baby’s crying. However, it forced us to decide each evening, who gets to wear earplugs? The person with the earplugs in is allowed to sleep. The person without the earplugs is the one who gets up. So the decision as to who is responsible is made every night before we go to bed. We were lucky to not have to deal with much in the way of sleep disturbances after the first few months – but taking turns and having a schedule definitely helped us get through the initial period.

How do you decide who gets up in your house?

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