Sleep plays an extremely important role in maintaining overall health. Yet, many people are unable to sleep well owing to their hectic schedules, something that can impact their well-being. The same is the case with new mothers. From having to wake up in the middle of the night to feed, to spending sleepless nights trying to make their newborn sleep, postpartum mothers experience taxing sleep cycles which can, in turn, lead to stress and fatigue. Actor Kalki Koechlin, who gave birth to daughter Sappho in February 2020 with partner Guy Hershberg, shared a post that all new mothers and mothers-to-be can perhaps relate to. “A little post on sleep. Sleep deprivation is no joke. It is truly mentally and physically debilitating. No wonder it’s used as a form of torture all over the world. New mothers can really relate to sleep deprivation,” she captioned an Instagram video in which she can be seen trying to catch some shut eye during her pregnancy as well as post-pregnancy journey. Kalki, who turned author with The Elephant in the Womb, went on to elaborate how lack of sleep affects mothers. “It can make us feel tired and lost and hopeless,” she mentioned. In such times, a helping hand in the form of family support can help, Kalki added. “Those around can help by taking over tasks in the domestic realm or be with the baby so she feels confident to switch off sometimes. Here’s a post dedicated to the importance of sleep for new moms. May you find the moments and slip into them blissfully,” she said. Agreed Dr Ritu Sethi, Senior consultant, Gynecologist, Cloud Nine Hospital, Gurugram and Apex Clinic, Gurugram, and mentioned how as it is, pregnancy is a “roller coaster ride of emotions that tends to get aggravated if there is no patient ear to vent the frustrations”. “The first thing getting affected in this scenario is sleep,” she said. WHAT CAUSES SLEEP ISSUES DURING PREGNANCY? Fluctuating hormones, disruption in sleep due to nausea and vomiting, frequent urination, and discomfort due to growing belly all contribute to lack of sleep, said Dr Sethi. “All this has drastic consequences on the woman’s health and also impacts her unborn child. A pregnant woman is more prone to infections due to decreased immunity, increased levels of blood glucose which predisposes to gestational diabetes. Hypertension can also develop in pregnancy. Even preterm labour and baby size being affected in the womb are also noticed,” said Dr Sethi. Sleep, experts say, plays a huge role as it tackles mood swings, reduces stress, helps stay at a healthy weight, and builds strength. “Usually, minimum sleep required is six hours and good sleep is eight hours. But for a pregnant woman, minimum sleep should be 10-11 hours while for a new mother it should be six-eight hours. The cyclic release of hormones takes place at the time of sleep which is needed for a baby’s growth during pregnancy and even afterwards for the mother’s mental health,” said Dr Sravanthi Gadhiraju, Consultant Gynaecologist, Obstetrician and Laparoscopic Surgeon, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad. Sleeplessness can trigger anxiety issues, gastritis as the digestion will not be good, added Dr Gadhiraju. One of the ways to deal with postpartum sleep deprivation is to sleep when the baby sleeps. It is best to not use the time to complete pending work or watch TV as one might not know when the child will sleep next. “One should not stress over not getting enough sleep. Divide naps in the afternoon, evening if night sleep is disrupted,” mentioned Dr Gadhiraju.