Sleep Deprivation with a Newborn
Every new parent goes through the ups and downs of a newborns sleep schedule. Feedings every few hours, diaper changes and temper tantrums in the late hours of the night can have moms and dads running on fumes. Is there any hope for sleep? Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to making it through those sleepless nights.
Practice good hygiene.
Typically, the first portion of the night is going to be the baby’s longest stretch of sleep. Implement a relaxing routine such as a warm bath or reading a few pages of a new book before bed. It’s important to turn off any electronics at least 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.
Your sleep environment.
Along with streamlining the bedtime routine, take notice of your sleep environment. Ask yourself if your bedroom is a relaxing place you want to fall asleep in. Put away the unfolded laundry, the stack of mail and any other clutter that may be in your bedroom. These can distract from a good night’s sleep.
If you need to take a break from sleeping with your partner, don’t feel bad. If you have any bed-sharing issues that may keep you up, try sleeping in separate beds to catch up. Adequate sleep keeps relationships happy and healthy.
Creating a great sleep environment isn’t just for parents, it’s for babies too! White noise machines, swaddling and a dark bedroom can all help your baby stay asleep for longer periods of time.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Put your pride aside and accept help whenever it’s being given to you. If you need help, ask family or friends. Babies sleep on and off over a 24-hour period. Allow friends and family to help with watching, feeding or changing diapers when they offer. Even if you can manage a quick afternoon nap while family cares for your baby, take it! Every little bit helps you catch up on sleep.
Create shifts with your partner.
The best help is in plain sight! Your partner or spouse can make a major impact. Team up with your partner by taking turns getting up with the baby so you can get uninterrupted sleep.
If you’re a nursing mom, try to go to bed at the same time the baby goes to sleep. You can feed the baby a bottle of pumped breast milk at the first wake-up so you can get a solid chunk of sleep during the first portion of the night. If you’re a single mom, accept help! Even if it’s for an overnight shift. Ask a friend or family member to sleepover to listen for the baby while you sleep in!
Sleep train your baby.
There are many opinions around infant sleep training. There can be a point in time where sleep training helps your baby lengthen his sleep stretches. Every child is different, and parents should do what they’re comfortable doing. Once a baby is 4 months old, you can begin sleep training if you’re comfortable. Talk with your pediatrician before beginning sleep training to make sure they’re comfortable with the method.
Work should stay at work.
Work deadlines and projects can easily rob us of precious sleep. For the first few months with a new baby, try to keep your work at work. Limit work-related emails, texts and phone calls at home.
Rejuvenate in other ways.
When you’re unable to squeeze in those 7 to 9 hours of sleep, find other ways to rejuvenate. Set aside time to listen to music, read a book, cook or work on your favorite hobby. Even with a new baby, finding a few minutes every day to do something you enjoy helps reduce stress.
Food and fitness are a major key.
The healthier you eat, the better you sleep! This same motto goes for exercise. Prioritize healthy eating habits and exercise to promote better sleep at night. Making these a focus will also give you more energy during the day.
Don’t substitute caffeine for sleep.
Although caffeine will give you that short boost of energy in the morning, it doesn’t count as sleep! Don’t start the habit of drinking coffee all day to stay awake. It may cause you to have more trouble falling asleep at night, thus continuing the cycle. There’s nothing wrong with having a coffee here and there but try to keep the consumption moderate.
Don’t sell the power of a nap short.
A power nap won’t replace your full eight hours, but when you’re sleep deprived every little bit helps. Even a short twenty minutes will help better your mood and improve alertness.
Don’t rely on sleep medicines
For the times you want to get a quick nap in but can’t fall asleep, you may want to resort to sleep medicines. Be cautious of grabbing sleep aides too often, especially without consulting your doctor. Talk to your doctor before trying any medication to induce sleep.
We know how important getting enough sleep is. Sleep deprivation can impair your judgement, cause you to be irritable and even make you prone to more accidents. Prioritize your sleep and be on your way to a happy, healthier you!