Can lack of sleep affect milk supply?

Answered by Stephen Mosley

Lack of sleep can definitely affect milk supply. When you have a new baby, sleep deprivation is a common struggle for many parents. The constant waking up during the night to feed or attend to your baby’s needs can lead to a significant decrease in the amount of sleep you are getting. This lack of sleep can have a direct impact on your milk supply.

One of the reasons why lack of sleep can affect milk supply is because it can disrupt the balance of hormones in your body. Sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in the production of cortisol, which is often referred to as the stress hormone. Elevated levels of cortisol can interfere with the production of prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production. So, the more sleep deprived you are, the higher your cortisol levels may be, and the lower your prolactin levels may be, which can result in a decrease in milk supply.

Additionally, lack of sleep can also impact your overall energy levels and physical well-being. When you are exhausted, it can be more difficult to find the motivation and energy to breastfeed or pump regularly. This inconsistency in breastfeeding or pumping sessions can signal to your body that less milk is needed, leading to a decrease in milk supply.

Furthermore, the quality of your sleep can also play a role in milk supply. Even if you are able to get a few hours of sleep here and there, the sleep may not be restful or deep enough to fully recharge your body. Poor sleep quality can affect the functioning of your body systems, including the production of milk. So, even if you are getting some sleep, it may not be enough to counteract the negative impact on your milk supply.

In my own experience, I remember struggling with sleep deprivation after my baby was born. I would often find myself waking up multiple times during the night to feed or comfort my baby. This constant disruption in my sleep schedule definitely took a toll on my milk supply. I noticed a significant decrease in the amount of milk I was able to pump, and it became a source of stress and worry for me.

To help mitigate the effects of sleep deprivation on milk supply, it is important to prioritize self-care and try to get as much rest as possible. This may involve enlisting the help of a partner, family member, or friend to assist with nighttime feedings so that you can get a few extra hours of uninterrupted sleep. Taking short naps during the day when your baby is sleeping can also help to recharge your energy levels.

Additionally, creating a relaxing sleep environment and practicing good sleep hygiene can improve the quality of your sleep. This may include keeping your bedroom dark and quiet, establishing a bedtime routine, and avoiding stimulating activities or screens before bed.

Lack of sleep can definitely affect milk supply. The disruption in hormone levels, decreased energy levels, and poor sleep quality can all contribute to a decrease in milk production. Prioritizing self-care, seeking support, and focusing on creating a conducive sleep environment can help to mitigate the effects of sleep deprivation on milk supply.