Health & Science

New Calculator Tells Parents Once and For All How Much Sleep They’ve Lost

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If it seems like you’ve barely slept a wink since you became a parent, you might not be too far off. A 2019 study published in the journal Sleep showed that sleep satisfaction and duration decrease dramatically for parents, from childbirth through three months postpartum. After that time, parents’ sleep doesn’t recover until their first child is about six years old. 

This appears to be a universal parenting experience. Researchers also looked at household income, parental age, and whether the study participants had partners or were single parents. None of those factors had a significant impact on how much sleep parents did (or in this case, did not) get.

Parental exhaustion is a source of concern—but also a source of bragging rights.

Given the potentially dire consequences of sleeplessness and the resulting parental burnout, this is a serious matter. However, many moms and dads who deal with daily exhaustion keep things light-hearted by comparing who got more or less sleep.

One website aims to help parents figure out who “wins” that competition, once and for all. Play Like Mum used the statistics uncovered by this academic study to create an online calculator that can tell you exactly how many Zzzs you’ve missed out on since becoming a parent.

The tool factors in the age of your child, and the parent’s gender (since the study revealed mothers lose more sleep than fathers). It also asks whether or not the child is breastfed, because nursing moms reported having less sleep overall and lower sleep satisfaction. 

Clearly many other factors affect sleep quality and quantity for families, including work schedules, medical issues, and a child’s individual temperament. But the calculator can be a fun way to acknowledge that while no one really wins the “who’s more tired” competition, yes, you are exhausted—and for good reason. New parents might never catch up on all that lost sleep, but these exhausted parent survival hacks can help you manage until your next well-deserved nap.



Robyn is Editor-in-Chief at ParentsTogether and is co-author of several NYTimes bestselling anthologies. She lives in southern Michigan with her husband and five children.