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Dads and Moms Lose Same Amount of Sleep Caring for Newborn Twins

Update Date: Oct 08, 2014 10:36 AM EDT

Both parents suffer from the same amount of sleep depravity when they bring home a set of newborn twins, a new study reported. Even though mothers might appear to have a harder time since they have to do double feedings, the researchers found that fathers are in the same boat.

"Both mothers and fathers are coming up short on the recommended eight hours of sleep," said Elizabeth Damato, PhD, RN, CPNP associate professor at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, reported by Medical Xpress.

In this study, which is one of the first ones to examine the impact of having twins on the fathers' sleeping time, the researchers recruited 89 families. The families had newborn twins that were delivered at three major Midwestern hospitals. The average age for the mothers and fathers were 32 and 33, respectively. The team used a device resembling a wristwatch to monitor the parents' sleep on three separate occasions over the span of three months. The parents also kept a diary to record their sleeping patterns.

The researchers found that during the first month, both mothers and fathers clocked in about the same amount of sleep. Throughout the night, both parents had to wake up multiple times, varying from three to six, to tend to their newborns. By the third month, the parents still did not get a full night's rest. If they did sleep, the longest period averaged less than three hours.

The team noted that mothers had more night interruptions during the weekdays. None of the parents were able to make up for lost sleep on the weekends.

"They suffered equally," Damato said. Damato plans on analyzing the effects of disrupted sleep on the fathers' cognitive, emotional and physical functioning during the daytime.

The study, "Sleep Pattern Gender Differences and Fragmentation in Postpartum Parents of Twins," was presented at the 28th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS) taking place in Minneapolis.

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