Breastfeeding Warnings

How Much Sleep Do Breastfeeding Mothers Need?

Becoming a mother is the most exciting time of a woman’s life, but it can also be overwhelming and exhausting. As a mother, it’s natural to feel worried about your health and well-being because you want to be at your best performance for your baby. 

You may also wonder how much sleep you need if you’re breastfeeding your little one. That’s what you can find out in this post. We’ve also provided valuable information on how to get enough rest so you can be strong and healthy when taking care of your baby.  

How Often Newborn Babies Feed 

According to the CDC (Center of Disease Control) a newborn baby can feed every 2 to 4 hours. However, some babies feed as often as every hour, which is known as cluster feeding. In the first few days after birth, your baby may want to feed every 1 to 3 hours. 

The amount of times your baby wakes up to feed will also depend on whether they’re formula-fed or breastfed. If you’re feeding your baby formula, they may wake up to feed every 3 to 4 hours. Your baby’s feeding habits will change as he or she grows. 

How Long a Newborn Can Go Without Feeding 

So, exactly how long should a newborn sleep without feeding? Experts suggest that newborn babies should not go more than 4 to 5 hours without being fed. Waiting too long to feed your baby can lead to health issues such as weight loss and even jaundice. 

Newborns that may sleep longer than the 3 to 4-hour intervals must be woken up to feed. Continue doing this until your baby shows healthy weight gain. 

On the other hand, you’ll also get cues from your baby when it’s time for them to take the breast. Your little one may become restless, make squirming movements, and start to cry, which are common signs your baby is hungry. 

How Breastfeeding Can Affect a Mother’s Sleep

Some newborns need to be fed every 8 to 12 hours a day or more. Since some newborns need to be fed every hour in the first week after birth, you may feel exhausted. Waking up every hour or every 2 to 4 hours can break your sleep cycle, which results in a lack of REM sleep. 

When your sleep cycle breaks, it can affect how you cope during the day and how you think. That’s why moms need to get the proper rest.  

Breastfeeding Moms Get More Sleep

Studies show that breastfeeding moms get more sleep compared to parents who bottle-feed their babies. This is because breast milk contains a hormone called prolactin that helps induce sleep. The hormone is released in the bloodstream after every feed which helps mothers fall asleep faster and easier.  

Additionally, making bottles of formula is tedious, even if you pre-make bottles. It takes time to prepare bottles for your baby, which can further disrupt your sleep.

The Number of Hours a Breastfeeding Mother Should Sleep

The average woman needs to aim for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. However, these hours may not be possible for a mother who’s breastfeeding. As a mom, you can aim to get at least 6 hours of sleep every day. Some mothers can function fine on fewer hours of sleep. 

It will depend on whether you suffer from fatigue or not. Other women tend to feel exhausted even after getting six or more hours of sleep.   

Tips for Moms to Get Enough Sleep When Breastfeeding

Many factors can affect the number of hours you get to sleep when breastfeeding a newborn. If you’re feeling more tired than usual, here are a few tips so you can start getting the rest you need: 

  • Nap during the day while your baby is sleeping 
  • Limit visitors for the first few weeks 
  • Place your baby’s cot next to your bed
  • Consider cluster feeding in the evening 
  • Ask your spouse to babysit while you nap
  • Wake your baby for a dream feed before you go to bed

If you get enough sleep but still feel exhausted when you wake up, you may need to eat more calories. Breastfeeding can use up plenty of metabolic energy so you need to eat healthy to keep up your strength. 

Final Thoughts

You must get at least 6 hours of sleep a night when breastfeeding your baby so that you can be a better caregiver to your little one. Use the tips we’ve provided in this post so you can get enough rest in between feeds. 


Christiana Gobina (BPharm)

Pharmacist Christiana holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree (BPharm) from the University of Ilorin. She is a dedicated healthcare professional with passion for Pharmacovigilance and medication safety particularly in underserved communities.
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