We've all heard the expression don't wake a sleeping baby, but depressed moms may be adding to their own suffering and ultimately harming their little ones by doing just that - waking their sleeping babies in the middle of the night.
Researchers at Penn State studied 45 mothers and their children (ages 1 to 2 years) by placing a variety of cameras in their homes to monitor their nighttime interactions. 14 of the 45 mothers reported experiencing depressive-type symptoms.
The study revealed that the moms experiencing symptoms of depression would more frequently go to their baby and wake them in the middle of the night, perhaps in an effort to soothe themselves.
Consequences of this form of sleep disruption may include behavioral challenges for the child during the day (increased hyperactivity / diminished impulse control), lowered immune response, possible child-mother relationship issues later-on, among others.
If you notice that you have difficulty controlling an urge to wake your child in the middle of their peaceful sleep, take a deep breath, collect yourself and pull away. And you may want to consider speaking with someone about your experience ... to bring awareness and positive change.
Jeff Ross, MA RCC
Jeff is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and sees clients in Vancouver (Yaletown) and North Vancouver, BC, Canada. He supports individuals with such issues as depression, anxiety, stress management, relationship issues, grief and bereavement, career and educational issues as well as growth and development. In addition he also does couples counselling / marriage counselling.
If you have a comment or question about this post or any other, please feel free to join the discussion or send him a private and confidential email. Let us know what Resonates with you!