Tips for Getting Enough Sleep with a Newborn
Being a parent is an incredibly gratifying experience. With a newborn in the house, it can also be an incredibly exhausting one.
As a parent, you need to get adequate sleep so you can take care of your baby and all the other tasks on your list. Fortunately, there are strategies to help you get sleep with a newborn.
How to Catch Up on Sleep with a Newborn
As new parents know, you find yourself with a sleep deficit almost immediately upon bringing your baby home. So, it’s imperative to start using the 10 practices below right away to catch up on your sleep and sleep better going forward.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. When your baby finally falls asleep at night, you may be tempted to get into bed as quickly as possible to maximize your rest. But hurrying to bed can lead to problems, such as struggling to fall asleep. Instead, spend a few minutes winding down and relaxing first. You should also ensure your room is dark, comfortably cool, and quiet.
- Sleep when your baby sleeps. Rather than using your “free time” for things like household tasks, get some rest and do the chores when your baby is awake. If you’re trying to get a nap during the day and have someone else watching your baby, you might consider using a white noise machine to drown out other sounds.
- Put your baby down in their bed. It’s fine to bring your baby into your bed to nurse or cuddle, but it’s safest for them to sleep in their own bed, and that’s also best for your sleep.
- Accept help (and ask for it). The twin goals for the newborn period are to take good care of your baby and yourself. Letting a family member or friend care for your child while you get some sleep isn’t abdicating your responsibilities — it’s enabling you to continue doing a great job of caring for your baby after a much-deserved break!
- Be mindful of diet and exercise. It may seem like there’s no way to complete a quick workout or prepare and eat a healthy meal while caring for a newborn, but you should try to find a way. There’s a direct connection between overall health and sleep quality.
- Refresh yourself while you tend to your baby’s needs. Listening to music, reading, cooking, or pursuing your hobbies while your baby is awake and happily occupied isn’t the same as sleeping. Still, those activities do help restore your body and mind.
- Recognize the value of power naps. Even taking a 20-minute nap while your baby sleeps can improve your mood and alertness. You should still try to get as much sleep as possible at night, but don’t dismiss your nap opportunities.
- Avoid sleep/energy aids. Sleep medications and energy boosters may provide short-term help but can set you up for long-term sleep issues. Avoid them as much as possible.
- Decline social events as needed. It’s fun to get out of the house and see friends and family. But if the choice is between getting some rest and having a nice visit, choose sleep. You can make up for lost time with loved ones once you get through the newborn phase.
- Be looking for signs of sleep debt. Most parents of newborns experience periods of exhaustion. However, if those periods start to run together, you can develop a harmful “sleep debt.” Not only can that condition leave you feeling and acting intoxicated, but it can also increase your risk of serious health problems like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. Talk with your doctor if your lack of sleep becomes significant and persistent.
Take Action to Prevent Sleep Deprivation with a Newborn
There will be sleep-less nights when you bring your newborn home. But you can prevent sleep deprivation by prioritizing getting as much rest as possible.
Keep in mind that while caring for a newborn is challenging for everyone involved, it’s often most taxing for moms. If that’s you, be sure to ask for help. If that’s your partner, gently encourage her to sleep even when she’s reluctant to rest!