BABY SLEEP SURVEY: Press Release 27th April 2017
Lack of sleep affects 91% of Mums and takes toll on 3 in 4 relationships
• 88% of Mums say their baby has had sleep difficulties in the past 5 years
• 75% say lack of sleep has affected their relationship
• 27% say they don’t want more children
A survey of 500 parents has revealed the true impact of sleep deprivation on people’s health and well-being.
The research by Sweet Dream Babies focused on Mums who have had a baby in the last 5 years. Of the 500 participants, 49% had just one child, and 40% had two.
It found that a staggering 88% of Mums had experienced what they considered to be sleep difficulties with their baby. And 27% answered yes to the following question: Have your child’s sleep difficulties had a negative effect on your wish to have more children?
Baby & Child Sleep Consultant, Samantha Bell, has been working with parents for over 20 years. She says the findings are concerning, but not unexpected.
“I am often shocked and saddened by how little sleep my clients have been existing on for months, sometimes even years. By the time they call me, this has often already had a huge impact on their lives. One of the most upsetting issues is the negative effect that lack of sleep can have on the relationship between the parents. I have worked with a lot of wonderful couples over the years, but have sadly seen even the strongest, most loving bonds tested.”
The survey found that lack of sleep had negatively affected the physical and mental well-being of 91% of Mums in the past 5 years. 75% said it had affected their relationship and 84% claimed a poorer enjoyment of day-to-day life.
Samantha comments: “The degree to which sleep deprivation is affecting people’s lives is painfully apparent and of real concern. Mums and Dads deserve to feel like they have the energy to be the kind of parent they want to be, and to enjoy life with their children. But for many, those early months and years can become a real challenge. This is a terrible shame because I know from experience that this level of sleep deprivation can be avoided.”
According to Samantha, simple changes to a baby’s sleep environment and sleep routine can make a huge difference. “Understanding why babies are struggling to sleep and learning how to help them, really empowers parents to make these vital changes, which ultimately improves the whole family’s quality of life.”
Some of the most common sleep challenges were babies getting upset when their parent/s left the room (81%), babies needing to see or touch their parents (73%), or be held (58%), to be able to fall asleep, and babies taking a long time to settle in the evening (63%).
“It goes without saying that babies and children need oodles of love, care, attention and reassurance. But, they also need to slowly learn the skill that is falling asleep. Often accidentally, a series of ‘sleep dependencies’ is created, without which the child is then unable to cope. Unfortunately, this is a vicious cycle; the more times the baby is ‘helped’ to fall asleep, the more ingrained the habit becomes, and the result is often a poor night’s sleep for everybody.”
Samantha says babies with sleep dependencies can be taught to sleep peacefully, by choosing the method that is right for each family and their baby, gently changing the circumstances and slowly creating some new, healthier sleep habits.
In the Sweet Dream Babies Sleep Survey, 88% of Mums claimed that their baby woke often throughout the night but was unable to go back to sleep without being settled all over again. 55% said their baby could only manage very short cat-naps during the day.
“Of course, young babies are not physically able to sleep for long, unbroken stretches and will come into many light phases of sleep throughout daytime naps and during the night. The baby’s ‘inner sleep system’ needs time to develop and mature, but it can certainly benefit from some guidance and gentle encouragement along the way. Long-term difficulties can arise though when a baby falls asleep in an environment (such as whilst being carried or rocked in their cot), which may not be present when they stir later. But, even very young babies are perfectly able to sleep soundly between their daytime and night-time feeds, and through their sleep cycles, if a few simple steps are followed.”
The survey found that over half of Mums experienced the worst of their baby’s sleep difficulties between the ages of 3-6 months (23%) and the ages of 6-12 months (30%).
“Two natural sleep ‘set-backs’ occur within the first 12 months of a baby’s life: The first at around 4/5 months and the second between 8 and 10 months,” explains Samantha. “These often affect the quality and quantity of a baby’s sleep, leaving parents exhausted. But, gently introducing a few simple sleep training techniques can help hugely in terms of nurturing and building up healthy sleep habits, even during these slightly tricky phases. Furthermore, this can all be achieved without ever having to use any form of ‘controlled crying’.”
At their wit’s end, 67% of respondents sought help online from other parents. Just 11% contacted a qualified sleep consultant.
Samantha comments: “Few people are even aware that sleep consultancy is a specialist field. They muddle through, thinking either that their baby just isn’t a great sleeper, or that they are doing something wrong, but don’t know where to go for help. It is sad to think that so many resign themselves to a lack of sleep being something they have no control over or, worse, that they are somehow to blame”.
“Although there is a lot of advice available across a myriad of online sources, much of it is based on people’s experiences with their own children. Every parent is, of course, doing their best, but some may just need that little bit of extra help to get the right information. Ideally, I would like to encourage any parent who is struggling, to seek specialist help and guidance, and receive tailor-made, effective support at what can be an incredibly difficult time.”
Note: The Sweet Dream Babies (www.sweetdreambabies.co.uk) Sleep Survey was carried out during March and April 2017.
For full findings of the survey or to arrange an interview with Samantha Bell, please phone 07875 850583 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org