While new parents might discover that sound sleep is a distinct impossibility with a new-born, it’s important to find ways to give the body that much needed rest. Also, remember that this is just a temporary phase. As the saying goes, tough times do not last, but tough moms do!
Here are top 10 Sleep Strategies for new parents to get some quality sleep!
- Ensure that you take good care of yourself in terms of health and wellness. Once you are in top shape, you can work better with less sleep.
- During these sleepless nights, finding the motivation or strength to exercise might be difficult. But even a light workout or a walk can help release those endorphins. Good exercise makes you feel rejuvenated and enhances your energy levels. But serious exercise is avoidable at this stage as sleep patterns are erratic.
- Stay hydrated as fluids keep you going on sleepless nights, especially if you are breastfeeding. Both partners should eat properly even if appetite is absent. The body needs fuel to carry on its functions and even more when it’s deprived of sleep. Eat healthy foods rich in nutrients and snacks that give you energy.
- Equal shared parenting works best at times like these. Split up those night time duties partners! Here’s how:
- Take turns in feeding (except breastfeeding of course), soothing, and changing your baby. These baby shifts can work like this. One partner takes care of the morning shift from say 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to handle the baby and the other partner operates on the 2 a.m. to 6.a.m. shift. This way both partners can be together with baby and also get four hours of solid sleep.
- Consider sleeping in separate rooms simply because you can leave one room free for the partner who is not on baby duty to catch some much needed sleep. Sometimes, teamwork requires isolation as well.
- Mothers should pump and sleep so your partner can feed your baby while you rest.
Regulate your sleeping habits with your baby’s sleep habits. Sleep when your baby sleeps, and go to bed when your baby does.
Invest in a new Bed:
- When it’s your turn to sleep, forget about everything else and just sleep. Switch off your phone and insist that you ignore all work, including office work and household chores. Everything can wait. Your sleep is far more important as your baby is the most important now. It might not be a bad idea to invest in a new bed. When sleep is scarce, it’s more important to ensure that your bed is comfortable to help restful sleep. Get rid of that ancient, rusty bed that your grandfather gave you immediately.
- Sometimes, sleep does play hide and seek especially during stressful times. Try relaxation techniques and meditation when insomnia invades your peace. Sometimes, listening to soothing music or chants can also help to reduce stress and bring about sleep. Relaxing by doing something you love like reading a book for example, can also bring about sleep.
Ask for Help:
- Do not be ashamed to ask for and receive help. Just say yes if anyone in the family offers to take care of the baby so you can get some shut eye. Don’t be a martyr and deny the help. Even a short power nap can work wonders when you’re sleep deprived.
- Pamper yourself (applicable for both partners) to beat the stress even if it only means taking a long, hot shower or a shave. Paint those nails, get a massage, speak to a friend or relative on the phone, read a short story, or listen to some cool music. You can go outside for a quick bite too. Do whatever that makes you happy. But keep it short and simple. You don’t want to keep your partner waiting while you play truant and pamper yourself all day long.
Create a Calm Atmosphere:
- See if you can keep your baby alert and active in the daytime and create an atmosphere that’s comparatively calmer in the evening. Take the help of softer lighting, quieter voices and ban background noise from televisions so that baby understands the difference between day and night routines better. The idea is to promote longer periods of sleep during the night rather than in the day.
N.B: Watch those hormones! Sleep deprivation can cause mood changes when those hormones are already working overdrive and this can lead to the ‘baby blues’. If you think there are any concerns about mood levels or sleep problems, consult your doctor immediately. Identification of the problem can help cure it so you get that much needed sleep to take better care of your baby.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Share your sleep strategies for new parents with us and we’ll share them with all our readers. Also send us any parenting questions that you may have which we shall answer on our popular Q&A session, where you ask and we answer!
You ask and we answer!
What is the average amount of sleep new parents get per night?
Joyce Laishram, Manipur.
Surveys show that the majority of new parents are getting between 5 and 6 hours of sleep each night. On average, each new parent loses a staggering 109 minutes of sleep every night for the first year after having a baby.
How many hours of sleep does a nursing mother need?
Nicky Rathor, Ranchi.
Breastfed new-borns need to nurse every 2-3 hours, that's 8-12 times a day. This means that, due to the short duration of their sleep, new mums tend to lack REM sleep. This is a deep sleep that starts around 90 minutes into the sleep cycle, and a lack of this can affect how mums think and cope in their daily lives.
How do you help a sleep deprived mother?
Shruti Baranwal, New Delhi.
- Be prepared.
- Take naps.
- Catch up on sleep during the weekend.
- Help your child sleep more soundly.
- Relax before bed.