You hear all the stories about sleepless nights and endless days, but it is not until you become parents yourself that you understand the joy and sleeplessness that come with the territory. Sleep deprivation can cause both mental and physical issues as well as decrease your energy levels. It can be the trickiest thing in the world to get enough sleep when you become parents. Here are six tips to help you through those first months.
Sleep When the Baby Does
You may have heard all this before but sleeping when the baby does is imperative to getting enough sleep. It doesn’t matter if you have a sink full of dirty dishes and the laundry hasn’t been done for a week; if the baby goes to sleep, then you should shut your eyes too. Babies may only sleep for a few hours at a time to start with but that is at least enough time to rest and recharge your batteries ready for another round of feeding and nappy changing.
Sleep In Shifts
Sleeping in shifts can be an effective way of making sure that both parents have a good night’s sleep. It works like this: If you put the baby down for the evening at around 8 pm, one parent should also go to bed at this time. The other parent should do the midnight feed and then go to bed leaving the first parent to get up and feed the baby at around 4 am. The second parent can then sleep in. This means that theoretically, both parents get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. You can take it in turns to do this or devise hours depending on which parent is a night owl and which is an early riser.
This method works best if the mother is expressing milk, or the baby is being bottle fed as this means that the other parent can participate.
Taking one night at a time can work well for parents. This means that you will both get a full night’s sleep every other night as it will be your partner’s turn to be on ‘night duty.’ Make the most of your night off by taking a bubble bath to relax and then having an early night. If you have a spare bedroom, it is a good idea to sleep in here as you then won’t be disturbed by your partner getting up in the night to see to the baby. That way you will get a good sleep and be ready to take your turn the next night.
Use a sleep app to monitor how much sleep you have had and how much you need to catch up on. Sleep science doesn’t have to be complicated with an app such as Rise Science. They make it simple for you to track and monitor your sleep, learn to improve your sleep, and give you more energy.
Cut Out Caffeine After 6pm
You are probably going to need a cup of coffee or two in the morning to wake you up and get you ready to face the day. A can of Red Bull might get you through lunch and then you may feel more energized. However, if you are still relying on stimulants into the evening, they are going to keep you awake. It is best to cut out stimulants after 6pm so that your body has time to digest the caffeine and you won’t be kept awake.
If you have just got up to feed or change your baby, you might be looking forward to going back to bed for a few more hours of snatched sleep. However, your body might have other ideas. As soon as your head hits the pillow, your mind comes to life. Suddenly you are thinking about what you need to do in the morning and what you did that day. There is no way you are going to be able to sleep with your mind running wild and any issues you have get magnified in the night too, leaving you worried and anxious and nowhere near restful.
This is the time to practice mindful meditation. It is not as difficult as it sounds. All you need to do is concentrate on the rhythm of your breath and breathe deeply. The routine motion of breathing in and out will calm your mind, give you something to focus on, and promote sleep.
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help if you need it. They will probably want to spend some time with the baby so let them take care of your little one while you catch up on some well-earned rest.
Use these tips to get you through the first few months of parenting. You may feel exhausted, but you should remember that this stage doesn’t last forever.