Editor’s Note: Dr. Neha Chaudhary, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, is the chief medical officer. BeMe Health and faculty at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.


When I found out I was expecting my son two years ago, it wasn’t the labor process that I was most afraid of – it was the lack of sleep – the lack of sleep that I knew I would face with a newborn for months on end. Rest.

A new study shows that disturbed sleep in parents and their children's lack of sleep are each associated with stress in parents.

As a physician, I spent ten years of my life working overnights, 30+ hour shifts and sleepless nights broken by the beeping of my pee. My brain and I knew how to function on the other side of no sleep. We were a ball of stress, on edge and slow to process information; We had a delayed reaction, sought out as many unhealthy foods as possible and felt like everything was a mountain.

And yet, nothing prepared me for the special sleeplessness of parenthood. Being a new parent meant that unlike those on-call times and overnight shifts, there were no more moments to crash and catch up. I never slept well until my baby slept well.

And I wondered if I was the only one, as all parents and caregivers do. After the lack of sleep, it is very damaged. (Eventually I made it to the other side.)

Turns out, it wasn’t. As a A new study, disturbed sleep in parents and disturbed sleep in their children were each associated with stress in parents. In fact, it doesn’t matter whether the parent has sleep problems or the child. Both affect parents’ stress levels equally.

The real poet? Stressed parents don’t sleep well. They are also not worried children. So the more sleep-deprived all family members are, the more anxious they all become—and the more anxious they become. Sleep worse. Sometimes all the worries lead to anxiety and even depression. In the study, anxiety and depression rates were four times higher in busy people. (And we know that stress and depression can affect sleep, too.)

For any sleep-deprived parent or caregiver, these results should come as no surprise. But as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I firmly believe that seemingly endless patterns can be broken and conditions can be treated.

If you and your family are stuck in the “no sleep” trap, the first thing you can do is invest in sleep in the family. Because no matter who doesn’t sleep well, if you’re under the same roof, chances are it affects everyone.

Regardless of who doesn't sleep well, if they're under the same roof, chances are it affects everyone, writes Dr. Neha Chaudhary.

Make sure you focus Good sleep hygieneA consistent bedtime and soothing bedtime routine with the right sleep environment (think: Cold, dark, and not immediately after eating) and no screen time. I strongly recommend modeling these behaviors in even very young children. They’ll thank you later, and you’ll thank yourself now for considering the connection between your stress and your sleep.

Remember, it doesn’t just start and end with sleep – stress does too. So focus on reducing stress levels for everyone at home. You can try sensory modalities like aromatherapy, candles, soothing music or warm touches in the tub, or a calming meditation – or a calming version.

Practice Resiliency skills During stressful moments, such as taking deep breaths, calling a friend, or taking care of yourself with a routine (even a boring one, like folding laundry).

There are many apps you can download to help you and your kids work through stressful times and learn healthy habits around sleep. And if the problems persist, get professional help for either sleep problems or anxiety. Many sleep disorders, such as Sleep apnea, can remain undiagnosed for many years, affecting the quality of life of parents and children. It can too. Conditions such as stress or anxiety.

If you’re stuck in the “no sleep” trap and it’s really affecting your family’s health, make an appointment with your primary care physician, your child’s pediatrician, therapist, or psychiatrist. can you Sleep better tonight.

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