What Really Happens to Your Body After All Those Sleepless Nights With a Baby

Image via Flickr/ Adam Dimmick

Any new parent can tell you that the sleepless nights that a newborn brings can really mess with your mind. From putting their keys in the freezer to leaving their purse on top of the car, most moms have an “I was so tired I …” story. What many new parents don’t know though, is that sleep deprivation can cause some real and serious changes to your body. Check out the ways below that a lack of sleep can impact your health. 

1. A Weakened Immune System 

It turns out that when your mom told you how important rest is when it comes to avoiding illness, she was right. While you sleep your body produces protective cells that strengthen your immune system. If you don’t get enough sleep your body might struggle to make these germ-fighting cells and you may be more likely to get sick. 

2. Weight Gain 

Most people know that eating a balanced diet and being active are major factors in maintaining a healthy weight. But they don’t realize that getting enough sleep may also play a big role. A lack of sleep impacts the way that your body produces certain hormones that can lead to weight gain or difficulty losing weight. 

3. Impaired Problem Solving Abilities  

During sleep, the brain has time to rest and repair. When you miss out on this mental down time your brain doesn’t function as smoothly as it usually does. When you lack sleep it’s common to feel “foggy” and to have trouble thinking through problems that wouldn’t normally give you trouble. 

4. Memory Problems  

When your brain is exhausted, it has to prioritize what to focus on. Usually, essential tasks take precedent and learning and remembering new things takes a back seat. When you miss out on sleep it’s common to have trouble recalling things that are second nature to you when you’re well rested (like your best friend's phone number!) and to have issues remembering new information (like the directions your friend just gave you to her new apartment). 

5. Serious Moodiness  

It’s no surprise that being exhausted can make you feel downright grumpy. Because sleep deprivation can cause a hormone imbalance you might feel happy one moment and seriously blue the next. 

If you’re experiencing any of the struggles above, it’s time to prioritize your rest. While it’s normal for new babies to be up throughout the night, getting the rest you need is vital to being an effective parent. Whether it’s getting a sitter so you can take a long nap, calling grandma for some middle-of-the-night assistance, or taking the age old advice of sleeping while the baby sleeps, do yourself a favor and get some shut-eye! 

{ MORE: Deal with Sleep Issues to Help Your Baby Get More Zzzs (So You Can, Too!) }

Did you notice anything happening to you after sleepless nights with your baby? 

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What Really Happens to Your Body After All Those Sleepless Nights With a Baby

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. She is writing a memoir on pregnancy, motherhood, and sisterhood and lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. ... More

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