Health News – Researchers found that a year after giving birth, the biological age of mothers who slept less than seven hours a night at the six-month mark was three to seven years older than those who logged seven hours or more.
Researchers at the University of California examined 33 mothers during their pregnancies and the first year after their childbirth. To determine the mothers’ biological age, they studied their DNA from their blood samples which are not similar to their chronological age.
The study showed that mothers who slept less than seven hours in the first six months after childbirth were three to seven years older than those who got seven or more hours of sleep.
The researchers identified shorter telomeres in the white blood cells of those mothers who slept less than seven hours. Shortened telomeres are considered the warning signs of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and earlier death.
“The early months of postpartum sleep deprivation could have a lasting effect on physical health,” said Judith Carroll, first author of this study published in the journal Sleep Health.
The study report suggested that more than half of the total participants got less than seven hours of sleep, during the first six months and one year after childbirth.
Caroll explained that the mother’s biological age was younger with every hour of additional sleep. According to him and other sleep scientists, sleep health is as important as diet and exercise for overall health
“Other findings on maternal postpartum mental health provide impetus for better supporting mothers of young infants so that they can get sufficient sleep — possibly through parental leave so that both parents can bear some of the burdens of care, and through programs for families and fathers,” said Christine Dunkel Schetter, co-author of the study.
The study assessed mothers aged 23-45 six months after childbirth which is not a broad representative sample. According to Caroll and Christine, more research is required to better understand the long-term effect of sleep loss in new mothers.
To Know More You May Refer To:
Carroll, J. E., Ross, K. M., Horvath, S., Okun, M., Hobel, C., Rentscher, K. E., Coussons-Read, M., & Schetter, C. D. (2021). Postpartum sleep loss and accelerated epigenetic aging. Sleep Health, 7(3), 362-367. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2021.02.002