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Being a sleep-deprived mom is literally one of the worst feelings ever. I’m pretty sure every parent (especially new parents) can relate to this on some level because sleep deprivation after baby is REAL.
Immediately after our son’s birth, he was taken to the NICU. We never got to spend the night with him in our room, but I was ushered to a breast pump and told to pump every 2 hours on the dot! Thus began my journey into sleep deprivation.
Shoot, my first night in the hospital I was literally up all night between pumping and the nurse coming in every couple hours to start a new medication.
I remember sitting there pumping and my eyes just closing as I nodded off just to wake up to the IV pump beeping. Yup. Great.
However, ALL HOPE IS NOT LOST!
I repeat, ALL HOPE IS NOT LOST! Listen up you sleep-deprived mamas, we’re about to dive right into how to survive sleep deprivation, you ready??
How to survive sleep deprivation after baby
Sleep deprivation in moms and new parents has become something we all joke about. We make small talk about how ‘coffee is life’ and how ‘I’ll just never sleep again’.
However, did you know there are some serious sleep deprivation effects going on in your body?
According to a Research Article on the Washington Post, “An alarming new line of research suggests poor sleep may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, as even a single night of sleep deprivation boosts brain levels of the proteins that form toxic clumps in Alzheimer’s patients.“
For parents that have been suffering from chronic lack of sleep (6 hours or less for over 6-7 months), they could be increasing their chances for things like stress, high blood pressure, and weight gain. (Though these are not cut & dry – there’s a deeper physiological connection that plays its role).
Lastly, overall mood and inability to cope during stressful outbursts become harder and harder to handle when moms are walking about like MOMBIES with their screaming babies – just trying to survive.
But now you can see the importance of why getting sleep as a new parent is even that much more important!
Ways sleep-deprived moms can get more sleep!
Now that you can see how sleep deprivation can cause some stress on the body and overall day-to-day ability to function, let’s jump into some tips on how you can GET MORE SLEEP!
Ask your partner or a family member for help.
Often times, one of the main reasons new moms or parents aren’t getting any sleep is because they’re feeding the baby.
When babies are in the newborn stage, they’re guzzling down milk every 2-3 hours, sometimes even more!
If you can, ask your partner or a trusted family member to help do a feeding or 2 with baby, this way you can catch up on some sleep and feel a little bit more functional!
Plus, a lack of sleep can also cause your breast milk supply to decrease a little, so make sure you’re finding the balance of getting just enough!
Take NAPS whenever you can!
I’m 100% guilty of finally having the time to take a nap and somehow get dragged into doing some un-important task that could’ve waited until later.
Make some decent effort to NOT get sucked into useless tasks and actually take a nap here and there when the opportunity (which can be rare) presents itself!
Throw on a nice little sleep mask and sneak in a nap!
How much sleep do new parents actually get?
Owlet, one of the leading baby monitor creators recently ran a survey that showed “that 74% [of new parents] have a poor quality of sleep, naturally as a result of their baby waking and crying in the night”.
This is why, in my opinion, taking naps whenever you can is one of the best sleep deprivation coping strategies for new moms & new parents.
In my opinion, taking naps whenever you can is one of the best sleep deprivation coping strategies for new moms & new parents.
Some moms are even scared to sleep when their baby sleeps.
This is totally normal in the beginning due to all the hormonal changes, but just know everything is ok.
Get Baby on a Sleep Schedule
Getting your baby on a sleep schedule can have major pros and cons! I am personally a big fan of sleep schedules because I work from home and desperately needed my son to nap on a schedule to allow me to complete my work.
However, some people aren’t too big on sleep schedules because it can really throw your baby off if they get off schedule.
If you’re someone who goes out often or doesn’t really live on a schedule yourself, then putting your baby on a sleep schedule may not necessarily work for you.
On the other end, if you could care less and just need more sleep OR you have to do things on a specific schedule – I would highly suggest getting your baby on a sleep schedule.
This could be as easy as just developing healthy sleep routines at a young age or considering sleep training once baby is older and developmentally ready (typically, around 16 weeks old).
What you need to know about a baby sleep schedule:
With sleep schedules, your baby won’t be going to sleep right on the dot. Instead, they’ll sleep within a window of time.
For example, when my son was 6 months old, his first nap after waking at 7:30 am would be around 9-10 am. He’d usually sleep for about 1 hour. He’d stay awake for 1.5-2 hours and then go down for a nap again between 12-1 pm.
As you can see, it wasn’t a straight forward sleeping schedule with a strict structure. But it definitely gave me just enough wiggle room to get errands done, take a nap if I was exhausted, do my work and make home life work around his schedule 🙂
My baby wakes up often, where do I even begin to get them on a sleep schedule?
I am SURE GLAD YOU ASKED! One of the most IMPORTANT pieces of information I learned when I began looking into sleep training is this:
Babies don’t begin consolidating naps until ~5 months of age (check out this post by Taking Cara Babies about newborns & naps).
Another cool fact is that once your baby reaches the 3-month mark, their sleep cycle begins to shift from the newborn (always sleeping) to more adult-like sleep cycles!
The difference is, as adults, we wake throughout the night, but are prone to just putting ourselves back to sleep we don’t even notice it!
For babies, on the other hand – this is ALL BRAND NEW! They don’t understand the concept of ‘putting themselves back to sleep’ like us adults do, yet they’re sleeping in a cycle as if they should.
That’s where your help comes in. To help them learn how to make baby sleep on his own (or her). The answer? Start encouraging and developing healthy sleep habits for them!
What healthy sleep habits can I teach my baby to help them sleep?
Make sure baby is eating often and enough throughout the day. Babies that aren’t eating enough or often throughout the day can be prone to waking more often. Under 5 months old, babies will generally still be eating every 2ish hours.
Establish a ‘bedtime’ routine. – Personally, we have dinner (before would be nursing), bath time, dry off and change into PJs. Sing some songs or read a book, nurse one last time and lay down to bed. Now that my son is 10 months old, this routine goes by VERY fast. We typically begin 30 min – 1 hour before his ‘ideal sleep’ time.
Focus on nighttime sleep – since babies cannot begin to consolidate naps until around 5 months, focus on your nighttime routine.
Try to set them down consistently around the same time. From all the research I did and from personal experience, we found the 7-8pm window to be the best baby sleep time for us!
Remember, babies like their sleep area DARK; use some portable blackout curtains like these if you need to!
Try not to get up every time they flinch or make a noise – Trust me, this is a hard one. I was guilty of getting up as soon as I’d hear my son wake up. But part of developing healthy habits is so they can learn to put themselves asleep.
When they’re newborns, yes of course check on your little one. As they get older try waiting at least 5 minutes to see if they’ll fall back asleep. Slowly stretch out the ‘wait time’ as they get older.
Make sure the baby’s sleeping area promotes sleep – Make sure the baby’s sleep is dark, very dark!
Often times, the light from the sun entering the room as it transitions from night today, can be a big reason for your baby waking early in the morning. Another tip to promote sleep, use a white noise machine to help drown out excess noise.
Use a good absorbing overnight diaper! – This one isn’t mentioned often enough. Who wants to sleep or just exist in a soiled diaper?
These Honest® Company – Overnight Diapers, are my favorite + they make awesome normal diapers at that! A great (a bit more affordable) alternative would be Target’s Up & Up Diapers! I also use these ones!
For additional (And even better) resources, I’d highly suggest checking out Taking Cara Babies & Natalie Willes – The Baby Sleep Trainer! I use both of their blogs and resources to help turn our little guy into the best sleeping baby ever!
Turn OFF the screen
I will never lie to you guys. I’m 100% guilty of not doing this. In fact, I could be napping right now, but instead, I’m writing this post. What do you expect?
In all seriousness, if you can find the will to shut off your screen and catch a nap, do it. I can promise you won’t regret. Although I’m guilty of not doing this often enough, when I have, I wake up feeling like a new woman!
Hopefully this post on ‘How to survive sleep deprivation after baby’ helps you get more sleep!
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