A program that provides new mothers with simple strategies to settle their baby, teach their baby the difference between night and day, and achieve healthy adult and infant sleep habits, led to significant increases in nightly shut-eye for moms and babies in a Canadian study.
“It’s tough to be a new parent, and it’s even tougher to be a new parent without enough sleep, so it was really exciting to find that the tips and strategies we gave to mothers were helpful,” Robyn Stremler, a registered nurse with the University of Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, told Reuters Health.
“I was hoping to find that the tips and strategies helped mothers and infants sleep better, but mothers who received the intervention were getting almost an hour more sleep at night when their baby was 6 weeks old - and that is a lot of sleep for a sleep-deprived mom,” Stremler added.
In the study, reported in the medical journal Sleep, 30 first-time moms and their infants were randomly assigned to the TIPS program, which stands for Tips for Infant and Parent Sleep, or to a comparison “control” group.
The TIPS group received a 45-minute meeting with a nurse to discuss sleep information and strategies, an 11-page booklet and weekly phone contact to reinforce information and solve problems.
The control group received a 10-minue meeting during which only maternal sleep hygiene and basic information about infant sleep were discussed. They also received a one-page handout and calls on the third and fifth week to maintain contact only but not provide advice.
Based on questionnaires and sleep diaries completed by moms at the start of the study and 6 weeks later, mothers in the TIPS group averaged 57 minutes more shut-eye at night than the control group, and fewer rated their sleep as a problem.
Moreover, infants in the TIPS group had fewer nighttime awakenings and had maximum lengths of sleep time that were, on average, 46 minutes longer compared to those in the control group.
“I was surprised by the magnitude of the impact of the TIPS program,” Stremler told Reuters Health.
She plans on conducting a larger randomized, controlled trial to include families of diverse social and ethnic backgrounds. She also hopes to determine if the sleep strategies can reduce postpartum depression and increase breastfeeding, and to see if the effects of the intervention can last until the baby is 12 weeks old.
SOURCE: Sleep, December 1, 2006.
Revision date: July 3, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD