How new moms can get more sleep
One of the toughest parts of the early days of parenting is the loss of sleep. While you love your little one, it’s okay to yearn for uninterrupted sleep and admit that it’s an exhausting thing you’re doing, because it really is. On average, a new parent loses around 110 minutes (almost two hours) of sleep every night for the first year after having a baby.
This stage does eventually pass and down the line there will be fewer night-time wakeups, but we understand how debilitating fragmented sleep can be.
While there is unfortunately not one solution to help you with the loss of sleep, there are some things you can do to ease your load and get some more rest. Looking after yourself might not be high on your priority list with a new baby to care for, but it is essential to your physical and mental health.
Small things like taking a shower, eating a healthy meal, going for a walk and taking a nap are important. You need a full tank to be able to function optimally. Many new parents, especially moms, feel guilty about prioritizing themselves, but there is a saying that you can not pour from an empty cup, which it is why it is vital to fill yours where you can with care and rest and accept help.
Here are some tips to help you feel more rested:
Sleep when your baby sleeps.
This is not always practical, especially if you’ve got a long chore to-do list. However, it might be worth leaving the dirty laundry and dishes and trying to get a bit more sleep during the day for your own health and wellbeing.
Accept help when it’s offered.
Whether a friend or family member offers to drop off a meal, do your laundry or look after your baby for a while, accept it. There’s nothing “weak” about accepting help, and it does not make you less of an awesome and capable mom.
Take turns with your partner for the night shift. Alternate nights of feeding, or even split up the 7pm to 7am period in two, so that you are getting some hours of solid sleep.
Improve your sleep process.
Even though you are tired, you might battle to fall asleep as your head hits the pillow. If you struggle to fall asleep, avoid caffeine within six hours of bedtime, do not eat a very heavy dinner, and try not to use your cellphone or watch TV within half an hour of going to sleep. Black-out curtains can be useful to create a pitch-black space – do not forget to turn your alarm clock away from you if it is very bright.
A warm bath can relax you and get you into “sleep mode” before bedtime, while a glass of warm milk could help you to fall asleep.
It is okay to say no to the neighbourhood charity drive, or not invite the family over for the usual big Sunday lunch. You have a lot on your plate as a new parent, so if a commitment is taking away from “you time” and causing more stress, rather say no to it.
Try to stick to things that suit you and don’t add to your workload if you are not up to it.
Seek professional help.
If you are having problems going to sleep, or you are feeling sad, helpless or anxious, chat to your healthcare professional as you might have postnatal depression. It affects a lot of new moms but it can be well treated and managed.