When Prince Harry quipped Tuesday that he “had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in four months” after spending a night away from baby Archie in Amsterdam, he likely wasn’t kidding.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s first child was born May 6, which by our calculations puts him smack in the middle of the dreaded four-month sleep regression after only recently growing out of the “need to eat every three hours overnight” newborn phase, and OMG we’re exhausted just thinking about it.
And Harry is far from alone. New-parent sleep deprivation is very real, and now a new poll reveals exactly how much sleep parents are losing in those first few months with a baby: about two hours less sleep every night overall.
Babies. They’re lucky they’re cute.
The research comes from Sleep Junkie, who surveyed 1,000 U.K. and U.S. parents who had a baby in the last 18 months.
They found that while 68 per cent of parents-to-be were getting the recommended seven or more hours of sleep per night, that proportion dropped to 10 per cent after baby arrived. Most new parents were struggling to get just five hours per night, Sleep Junkie noted.
(Note that the study did not specify how much of that sleep was straight vs. cumulative ... and our money is on cumulative).
On top of that, new parents spend another five-and-a-half hours just trying to get their babies to sleep. Feeding, walking, and driving topped the list of the most time-consuming activities parents attempted to get junior to nod off.
Let us all raise a coffee to the fleet of zombie parents driving aimlessly at 2 a.m. to make the crying stop. May the 40 minutes of fitful sleep you manage to get in your laneway be enough to get you through another day.
WATCH: Have you considered sleep training? Story continues below.
But remember: while new-parent exhaustion is common, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy or even safe.
Sleep deprivation affects everything from your health to your relationships to your mood. Poor sleep quality has been linked with postpartum depression, and a recent Canadian study found that even just worrying about your ability to manage your child’s sleep is associated with higher rates of depression for both moms and dads.
And a 2018 U.S. study found that driver drowsiness is the cause of seven per cent of car accidents, and 14 per cent of fatal crashes.
So, please, do whatever you can to get some sleep, as impossible as it may seem. Here are some tips to survive sleeplessness, and an explainer on sleep-training if you decide that’s what’s best for you.