New parents sleep sporadically, if at all. Newborns are noisy and need near constant surveillance and care. Sleep deprivation may sound like something that happens to those captured at war, but I’m sure new parents can relate. So, how can you keep up while still being there for your baby?
I know that personally, my first child was quite the rough sleeper. It was hard to put him down, and when he finally did shut his eyes, the merest change in lighting or even a cough would jolt him awake. While not all babies are this bad (our second was a bit better), it’s best to be prepared for the worst. Here are some tips that I’ve picked up along the way to help you new parents sleep:
New Parents Sleep Poorly: Get Used to it
The first and foremost thing to keep in mind for new parents sleep woes is this: it isn’t going to be a breeze. Simply preparing yourself mentally and reading up on techniques is a fantastic place to start. The fact that you’re reading this means that you’re already headed in the right direction. Make the best use of your resourcesto help buffer yourself against the incoming sleeplessness, whether they are online or from a knowledgeable friend.
Don’t Build up a Sleep Debt
Present research suggests that the average adult requires at least seven hours of sleep every night. When you continuously check in at 5, 3, or even less hours of sleep every day, you are walking a path towards more permanent health risks. Keep yourself wary of too many days spent sleepless in a row. The good news is that most babies (around 90%) will start actually sleeping through the night after about 3 months of age.
Nap, and Nap Well
Not everyone can nap, and for new parents sleep is evasive and life is stressful. This makes napping all the more important. Trying to nap when stressed out is difficult indeed – however, naps can be as short as twenty minutes and still be effective. Research has shown that even twenty minutes (more is certainly preferable) will increase alertness for the next six hours. Try to get those precious minutes back whenever and however you can. If you don’t nap easily, try different methods like using soothing music, dim lighting, and aromatherapy while in a nice warm room.
Put Work and Chores on Hold
For new parents sleep comes at a price: there are chores and work to be done. Many new parents take moments of respite as opportunities to take care of household chores or do some work from home. I would suggest letting your chores take a backseat to your personal health – get your sleep so that you can stay sane and healthy while caring for your newborn.