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More Sleep for Nursing Moms

If whipping up bottles of formula sounds like a good way to streamline nighttime feedings and catch some extra z’s, think again. A study from the University of California at San Francisco shows that parents of breastfeeding babies clock an average of 40 to 45 minutes more sleep at night than bottle-feeding parents.

The study, which looked at first-time parents of three-month-olds, found that parents who used bottles at night not only got less sleep but also reported more sleep disturbances than parents who exclusively breastfed.

“Parents who supplement their infant feeding with formula and are under the impression that they will get more sleep should be encouraged to continue breastfeeding, because sleep loss of more than 30 minutes each night can begin to affect daytime functioning, particularly in those parents who return to work,” concluded the study’s authors.

The discovery should hardly come as a surprise, notes Baylor Frisco lactation consultant Christine Herlan. “At three months, a baby should be proficient at breastfeeding very effectively in a few minutes, as opposed to the mom who … has to get up and heat bottles.”

Desperate for more shut-eye? Herlan suggests focusing not on bottles and feeding but on time management and sharing responsibilities. “If people are willing to help, then let them come in and help you,” she advises.