New mothers rarely get enough shut-eye, but depressed mom may be especially sleep deprived. Why? Because they wake up their babies at night.
After installing cameras throughout the homes of 45 white mothers, researchers from Pennsylvania State University discovered that women with elevated symptoms of depression and anxiety sought out their babies in the wee hours even if the little nippers didn’t cry out, Time reports.
“Some babies were sound asleep and their mothers would pick them up and disrupt their sleep,” said Douglas Teti, lead author of the study, published Tuesday in the journal Child Development.
Mothers who weren’t depressed only got up in the middle of the night if their babies were crying. But depressed mom tended to spend extra time nursing, cuddling and lying next to their babies regardless of whether the babies were upset.
Dr. Teti theorized that unhappy moms reach out to their babies for their own emotional security or “contact comfort.”
He also cited preliminary data showing that moms with postpartum marital troubles are more likely to share a bed with their babies – a finding that is bound to raise the ire of attachment parenting devotees, who maintain that co-sleeping is the norm in much of the world.
Only 14 of the mothers in the study using nighttime cameras were depressed, which seems like a small sample size. Nevertheless, the study concluded that depressed moms contribute to sleep problems in their babies and not the other way round.
“Sleep problems often endure beyond early childhood, and can have a negative effect on various aspects of development, including emotional, behavioral, and academic functioning,” Dr. Teti noted in Telegraph.
And by that logic, adults with sleep issues can always blame their worrywart moms.
Do cameras lie, or are anxious moms really keeping their babies awake?