Every parent would agree that there is nothing more fulfilling than to have a chance to form a bond with your little one. But not many new parents know that frequent feedings, diaper changes, and walking the halls with a fussy baby can make sleeping at night nearly impossible. New moms and dads are often surprised by just how drained and exhausted they are, and at times, it can seem as if they’ll never feel rested again.
Since a newborn usually wakes up every three hours to eat, sleep deprivation in new parents can be difficult to avoid. Even though it’s challenging, you have to make sure that you get enough sleep and still be able to take care of yourself. You wouldn’t want to be one of those burnt-out parents that loses their cool when they’re pressured or suffering from lack of sleep. Here are a few coping strategies for sleep deprivation that you can do:
1. Nap whenever you can
One of the most common pieces of advice: when the baby naps, take a power nap time. They’re not full eight-hours of sleep, but clock in as much as you can. It’s better to have some than none, right?
It may seem to be a golden opportunity to do so many things when your baby naps, such as clean, prepare, shower, and run errands. Except I’m going to circle back to what I mentioned earlier about your priority. You’ll have a few must-do tasks here and there, some which you can only do when the baby is sleeping. But for the most part, your priority (at least one of the top ones) should be to rest and sleep.
Right after childbirth, your body is also still healing, so you need to sleep as much as you can. You won’t get long hours to rest, but you should still consider yourself a patient as well as a mom. Do the important tasks you can’t neglect, then focus on napping throughout the day.
2. Monitor diaper changes and feedings
During the early weeks, you’ll need to track your baby’s eating and diaper changes to know how much he eats and how often. You’ll also record whether he has wet and dirty diapers and what kind of poop he had. But lack of sleep can make your brain really foggy. Because of this, using notes or apps that can keep your life organized will be very helpful. Or you can just use a good old paper and pen to track feedings, sleep and poop patterns. Rather than trying to remember all these little details, write them down while you’re getting a back massage on your adjustable bed frame. The last thing you need to do is to try and just remember exactly when your baby had a green poop and when you fed him last.
3. Eat good food and drink plenty of water
It’s amazing how the food and drink we consume can affect our day. Excessive burgers and sodas can make you feel extra sluggish. Instead, eat healthier options as much as you can: Homemade meals, fruits, and vegetable smoothies, soups, and salads.
Not only will healthier food make you feel better, but it’ll also help you recover as well. Your body will be healing, so it’s even more important to eat the right kinds of food. And don’t forget to drink tons of water for all its benefits. Stay hydrated and you’ll avoid headaches, and you can ensure your body is performing as best as it can.
Occasionally, there’s no other option but to just opt for pizza delivery—and that’s okay. We’re talking about the newborn days here, so we can’t always be picky with what we eat. But remember, the more nutritious your choices, the better you’ll feel.
4. Go for a Morning Walk
Take a walk. Sometimes, staying in too much and just feeling cooped up at home can weigh you down. When you’re ready or feel like air and sunshine could do your body good, bring the baby in a stroller and start small. Light exercise can invigorate your body with much-needed endorphins. A slow walk around the block can be all you need to feel refreshed.
Walks can be your sanity-saving activity, especially when you feel frustrated or helpless. Start small. Maybe go on your own without the baby, even for a few minutes. Later, take him for a stroll with another adult. The exposure to natural sunlight in the morning can reset your circadian rhythm after a sleepless night. It also helps an infant develop a regular sleep-wake cycle. Plus, the exercise may make it easier to fall asleep when you do have a chance to nap.
5. Organize everything
Have you ever noticed that when you’re doing a task last minute, it takes more time or causes you more stress? For instance, in the middle of the night, the baby wakes up, you feel delirious, incoherent, and downright grumpy, and you’re scrambling for things that the baby needs. Now imagine how much more helpful it is to have everything you need to be organized and within reach. This meant keeping your nursing pillow, feeding tracker, and infant gas drops in the same place.
Conserving your energy and taking a rest as often as you can is important but you’ll also want to prepare. Stock the changing table with diapers and wipes so you won’t be fumbling around in the dark. Also, have your water bottle by your bedside table so you wouldn’t have to go to the kitchen when you’re thirsty.
However, you don’t want to get too ahead of yourself though and prepare so much that you don’t allow yourself to rest. Do enough to get through the next scenario, and give yourself the remainder of the time to sleep and relax.
6. Create a sleep-inducing environment
Taking care of your newborn baby can leave you feeling so exhausted that you expect to be able to fall asleep anytime– only to find you can’t. If you have trouble falling asleep, make sure that your bedroom is conducive to sleep. This means making your room comfy, dark, and peaceful which makes falling asleep a lot easier.
If your bed is already old and worn out, consider treating yourself a new mattress and/or a bed frame with headboard. When sleep is in short supply, it’s more important than ever to make sure your bed is comfortable, supportive and an aid to restful sleep, whenever you manage to take it.
7. Accept any kind of help
If your friends and family are eager to take care of your newborn, don’t turn them down. Although, you may prefer to spend your first few days with your baby as a family unit and build a mother-baby bond. Instead, consider accepting and asking for any help you can get in case you reach your breaking point. For example, they can hold and watch for your baby so you can nap, take a shower, or even get out of the house for a few minutes.
Unfortunately, if you don’t have family and friends nearby, you can hire night nurses to help you during the wee hours of the night.
8. Avoid caffeine before bedtime
As much as you may love coffee or caffeine, begin to lay off the drinks after a certain time. Figure out your cut off, and hold back on the coffee after then. It’s pretty hard trying to fall asleep when you’re wired to stay awake.
Some individuals don’t drink coffee so their body is pretty sensitive to the small amounts of caffeine even from just drinking tea, any caffeinated drinks they consume after 12 PM will only spell trouble for them at bedtime.
Moreover, once in the body, caffeine will persist for several hours: it takes about six hours for one half of the caffeine to be eliminated. With this, any caffeinated drinks before bed reduce the amount of REM sleep we get. You can use a sleep calculator to know when exactly you need to hit the hay.
So, what does REM stands for? Your REM sleep happens within the first 90 minutes of falling asleep and, as the sleep cycle repeats throughout the night, REM sleep occurs several times nightly. The National Sleep Foundation believes that REM sleep benefits learning, memory, and mood. A lack of REM sleep may have adverse implications on your physical and emotional health. Now you don’t want that, so start limiting the amount of caffeine you consume and get some zzzs.