If you are a new parent, then you understand the frustration of sleep deprivation. It is hard to get more than four hours of uninterrupted sleep at night due to your baby crying. In fact, one study conducted with over one thousand parents learned that parents of new babies miss out on 6 months of nighttime slumber in those first 2 years of their baby’s life.
Do you feel like you are missing out on several month’s worth of sleep?
Here are some helpful steps to improve your sleep and hopefully lesson the amount of snoozing that you miss out on.
1. Plan Ahead.
This can be done before you bring your baby home. Discuss your ability to handle sleep deprivation with your spouse. Plan ahead to have a babysitter or evening-time nurse to come in to help. You can even ask some family members to help out for a while. The key is talking about it and setting that plan into motion.
2. Learn To Say No.
Having a baby can put you out for a while. So when you begin getting back into the swing of things, you may feel pressured to push yourself more than you should. Things like helping a neighbor, babysitting for a friend or volunteering to supervise a field trip may just need to wait. Do not take on extra responsibilities when you have a new baby. Learn to say “no” for your health and the health of your family. The time will come when you do have more time and sleep under your belt to be able reach out in those ways again. But for now, take a break from those things.
3. When Your Baby Sleeps – You Sleep.
You may have heard this before, yet in the moment it’s not easy to do. Often times when your baby falls asleep is the time you feel you have to jump up and get some things done. Perhaps you have piles of laundry to get done, phone calls to catch up on, or a favorite TV series to watch. It’s so tempting to get things done when you baby takes a nap.
Yet if you ask any experienced baby nurse, they will confirm that the way to stave off postpartum sleep loss is to sleep when your baby sleeps. So, when your baby takes a nap, drop everything and you take a nap too. Everything else can wait, except your baby, of course.
4. Accept Help.
None of us actually enjoy asking for help. Many of us don’t like accepting help when it is offered either. Yet in this case, it would be wise to accept any offered help that you can. If a friend, babysitter or family member offers to help you so you can sleep… take it! Sleep is not just a luxury, it is a medical requirement. Be sure to keep your napping area cool and dark for resting with TV and other distractions turned off. You may want to also invest in a good comfortable bed like the Sleeping Beauty mattress.
5. Divide Up Responsibilities.
To increase your amount of sleep, try dividing up household tasks with your spouse or other family members. For example, if your baby is bottle fed, take turns with your spouse for the daily feedings. If you are breastfeeding, consider pumping and then have someone else take a turn to feed. Do the same on other household chores. Sharing responsibilities can help free up time for naps and needed sleep.
6. Try Not To Worry So Much.
It’s hard as a new parent to not worry about your baby. The responsibility of having a new life to be in charge of is daunting and overwhelming. Yet if you are aware of being excessively worried, work to lesson your fears.
If you have anxiety that you won’t hear your baby cry when they wake up in the nursery then get a monitor to keep near you. Remember that it’s okay for your baby to cry for a few minutes. He will be fine.
7. Remember Things Will Change.
Remind yourself that there will come a time when your baby sleeps through the night, and so will you. Some infants earlier than others. If you are concerned about your baby crying all night, discuss it with your pediatrician to rule out any medical reasons like gas or acid reflux.
8. Don’t Ignore Bigger Issues.
Most new mom’s experience the “baby blues” after childbirth. This is mostly brought on by sleep deprivation and can lead to mood swings and a general feeling of feeling blue. New mom’s can also be at risk for the more serious postpartum depression. If you find yourself experiencing symptoms of this, make sure you talk to your physician and get them addressed.
Also, if you feel that your sleep is improving at all, even with short naps, you may want to discuss this with a professional as well. There could be an underlying sleep disorder that needs to be treated. Sleep apnea (where you pause your breathing while you sleep) and other disorders are treatable and can improve your health and even save your life.