Sleep troubles and babies go hand in hand. If you have a baby, it's normal to say goodbye to those sweet 76 - 8 hours of rest. Sleep deprivation in any form is something to be concerned about, but when also taking care of a baby, it's even more important to take action.
How much sleep are new parents really losing? On average, each new parent loses 109 minutes of sleep every night for up to a year after having the baby. If you have two parents, that's 218 minutes a night. Basically, it's like college all over again, only you can't sleep in and just skip class.
Luckily, you don't have to accept your newfound sleep-deprived fate. There's action you can take to survive sleep deprivation after baby to feel happier and healthier.
How Does Sleep Deprivation Impair Parents?
Your sleep deprivation impacts you in more ways than you think. You're not just missing out on sleep dreams, you're also prone to a number of sleep deprivation symptoms like:
- Memory problems
- Foggy brain feeling
- Prone to stress
- High blood pressure
- Trouble thinking
- Mood swings
- Risk for diabetes
- Weakened immune system
These add up really quick! The issue lies in your infant's sleep patterns. Your baby spends much more time in REM sleep compared to you. Their sleep cycles are much shorter as well, leading to your infant waking up easily and frequently throughout the night.
Even if you go back to sleep after soothing or feeding baby, these interruptions in your sleep still harm your sleep cycle. Each time you close your eyes, your sleep cycle restarts all over again. The result is simple: exhaustion.
Tips for Overcoming Sleep Deprivation
So what can you do? You know how challenging it is to be "on-call" with the baby all night, but isn't that just a reality of being a new parent? While it's true you still need to be there for your baby, you still have steps you can take.
Your sleep is important! Protect it during your new parent phase with these tips below.
Make Up Some Zzz's
You probably have heard that there's no such thing as "catching up" on sleep. While this is true, your body will benefit from sleeping in a bit when you can.
The trick here is to avoid overdoing it. There is such a thing as overdosing on sleep, and this will just wreck with your sleep cycle more. Instead, take frequent naps and trade-off with your partner to sleep in a bit when you can.
Learn About Sleep Regression
Most babies go through a sleep regression at around 4 to 6 months. This is a sign that their sleep cycle is changing, and it also means it's time to teach baby good sleep habits.
This is a good time to turn down the monitor. Baby's groan and whimper throughout the night, but this doesn't mean you need to jump to their sides at every second. Instead, encourage your baby to fall asleep on their own.
Take a Much-Needed Nap
Naps aren't just for babies. While most new parents feel pressured to get caught up on chores during nap time, taking a nap instead likely has a greater impact on your health than those dishes in the sink. Taking a 20 to 30-minute nap before 3 pm is a great way to refresh your brain and feel more awake.
Create a Sleep Ritual
Your baby likely has a sleep ritual for them, whether that means bath time followed by rocking. Believe it or not, adults benefit from sleep rituals too.
If you get in the habit of doing the same thing each night before bed, you signal your brain that it's time to go to bed. If you're struggling with anxiety around bedtime, this is a great way to unwind.
Use your bedtime as a chance to treat yourself. You work hard as a new parent! Give yourself a mini-break at the end of each day. Here are some simple suggestions:
- Take a relaxing chamomile and lavender bath
- Read a favorite book
- Use the Full 8 Hours sleepy time scrub with essential oils
- Unplug from your devices
Get Better Sleep
All new parents deserve a better night's sleep. Of course, this isn't always possible when you're taking care of a new baby.
Take a few steps to make your sleep a little bit better. Whether you catch a nap in the afternoon or you create a new sleep ritual, take advantage of the time you have. Who said all new moms and dads had to be tired?