There’s a myth that breastfeeding moms get less sleep than formula-feeding moms. According to Dr. Hawley Montgomery-Downs, an assistant professor of psychology and coordinator of the behavioral neuroscience program at West Virginia University, though, while there are many factors that may contribute to breastfeeding moms getting less sleep, such as the challenges of caring for a newborn baby, causing the mom to be sleep-deprived, there is no truth to the suspicion.
Shelby Harris, director of the behavioral sleep medicine program at the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, breastfed babies tend to metabolize milk more rapidly than formula-fed babies, causing the need to be fed more throughout the night. But while there have been many moms who can relate to this, studies have shown these to be consistent and thus cannot be claimed as holding true for all breastfeeding moms.
A study conducted by Hawley-Montgomery put this breastfeeding myth to the test by asking 80 new moms, both breastfeeding and formula feeding moms, to note how often they would wake up for these nighttime feedings, how well rested they felt, wearing sensors to record the lengths of their sleep. 27 of the mothers exclusively breastfed, 18 exclusively formula fed, and 35 mixed fed. The study revealed that there was no significant difference between the amount of sleep of breastfeeding moms, formula-feeding and even mixed feeding moms.
In fact, if you think about it, formula feeding moms may actually be even more mobile whenever they need to feed their newborns, getting up to prepare a bottle and moving around. Breastfeeding moms, however, might actually be awake less and for shorter periods of time as they can readily nurse their babies. Breastfeeding women also have more of the hormone prolactin, which helps promote sleep, and the moms can actually fall asleep while nursing their babies.
Click here to learn more about how breastfeeding mom don't necessarily get less sleep.