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When you’ve got a new baby, you can be sure any conversation will quickly come around to sleep: “How is the baby sleeping? Are you getting enough?”

We bet that nine times out of ten, this question will be aimed at moms— they get all the attention on this front!

But—moms turn away now—it turns out dads are getting even less sleep. And no, it’s not always because they’re up playing X-Box!

A study in the journal Developmental Psychobiology shows that while the sleep of first-time mothers is more frequently interrupted, dads are getting fewer hours of shut-eye and feel sleepier than their partners during the day.

So we’re extending the conversation to fathers, because we hear you! You need more sleep too.

baby boy asleep on dad's chest

One sleepless night is the equivalent of being cognitively drunk!

How much slumber is enough?

The optimum amount of sleep seems to be frequently debated, but in reality, the research really hasn’t changed much for adults. 

The National Sleep Foundation updated its recommendations for appropriate sleep durations in 2015, but the sleep range for adults aged 26-64 stands unchanged at seven to nine hours a night.

You can get away with sleeping more than this if you’re a young adult (ah, those carefree days!), if you’re recovering from a sleep debt, or if you’re sick. 

But any more than that for a normal adult and you could be risking your health. 

Hongkongers get less sleep than anyone else in the Asia-Pacific, a healthy living survey by Intuit Research found. 

On average, we sleep 6.5 hours a night, ranking bottom of our 15 neighboring countries.

There’s a minefield of international research that shows sleeping over nine hours is a factor for issues such as cognitive impairment and depression. 

It also puts you at higher risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Cheerful stuff for those of us who love a lie-in.

What’s ideal for you will differ from your neighbor, colleague or fellow dad, but a good way test your optimal hours is to record how many hours you sleep naturally (without an alarm clock).

Parents, you can get back to us with your findings in 10-15 years.

What’s special about dads?

In our modern-day, fast-paced lives, we enjoy showing off how busy we are and how much we work. 

Many dads enjoy bragging rights over how little sleep they’re getting, and it doesn’t help that the most successful men swear by just a few hours of zzz a night.

U.S. President Donald Trump revealed he sleeps four to five hours a night and Apple CEO Tim Cook likes to brag on Twitter at waking before 4am to start a day’s work. 

But this alpha game could have serious negative effects on men’s health and performance. 

Dad reading to his daughter

Dads, more sleep doesn't have to just be a dream!

Sleep researchers David Dinges and Gregory Belenky from the University of Pennsylvania and the Walter Reed Army Research Institute carried out some of the most compelling studies to date.

They found that to our brains, one sleepless night is the cognitive equivalent of being legally drunk. 

And a few nights in a row of just four to six hours’ sleep can lead to this level of impairment too.

Many dads enjoy bragging rights over how little sleep they’re getting, and it doesn’t help that the most successful men swear by just a few hours of zzz a night.

Another study from Southern Cross University in Australia just focused on new dads and found that fatigue and sleeplessness compromised their safety in the workplace. 

It suggested reducing the workload of fathers with babies in the first 12 weeks and being flexible with paid paternal leave. 

Sweden is actually leading the way in considering the needs of the dad post-birth, offering men 90 days of paid paternity leave.

But with fathers receiving very little time off in most other countries—particularly in Asia—it’s no wonder they feel entitled to voice their sleep deprivation!

Did you know?

An extra 30 minutes snooze a night could help you function better!

Researchers from the University of California San Francisco Human Performance Center found that after just five days of an extra half hour per night, fatigue, tension, and daytime sleepiness all decreased by over a third.

How to get enough shut-eye

You may be thinking, of course I want more sleep, but how? 

With an ever-increasing to-do list plus an infant who could be waking hourly, getting more sleep may sound like a pipe dream.

Here are some of our small tips that may just help you clock up more hours in bed:

  • Be prepared when tackling those late-night parenting duties. Preemptively stock shelves for basic ailments like fever, cough, upset stomach, or teething, so you can solve the problem quickly and settle everyone right back to sleep.
  • Don’t be tempted to resort to the (wine) bottle before bed: alcohol prevents your body from falling into a deep sleep.
  • Blue light emitted by digital devices messes with your levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, making it trickier to fall asleep. Either avoid these before bed or at least turn down the brightness.
  • Track and analyze your sleep habits with a wrist tracker and smartphone app. You can learn what works best for you and build a better routine.

So, dads, you don’t need to wear your sleep deprivation as a badge of honor anymore! 

Being well rested means you can perform at your best every day for both your work and your family.