Another sleepless night? You’re not alone, too many parents get way too little sleep. A recent survey found that nearly half of all parents with children 6 months or younger get 1 to 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night (Hanawalt, 2020). Parents know all too well just how real sleep deprivation is, when children are born.
The cultural assumption of a mother’s sleep no longer being a priority once the baby arrives, is often taken for granted (Peterson, 2020). Sleep deprivation affects everything in terms of your body, mood, cognition, stress, hormones, cortisol levels and appetite (Peterson, 2020). As hard as it is juggling a busy lifestyle with work, chores, family and social obligations it is unhealthy for a healing mother, their partner and the whole family to be left sleep deprived.
Even if parents are managing to sleep for a respectable number of interrupted hours, this fragmented sleep is still not enough rest to fully recover from a full day (Hanawalt, 2020). Fragmented sleep goes beyond a tired body as it also affects how you think and cope.
During this time, it’s hard to feel like there is a way out of sleep deprivation. To help you reclaim a blissful night’s sleep the Sleep Health Foundation have some simplistic tips you can add to your sleeping routine.
- Your sleep pattern will change
Babies develop a day-night wake-sleep cycle over the first 3 months of their life. Knowing you will have a lot less sleep during this time, discuss this with your family about how you are going to cope with a lot less sleep.
- Minimise responsibilities
Especially within the first 3 months, learn to say ‘no’ to requests when you have scheduled your own sleep.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps
Ensure you have your bedroom set up for sleep at any time. Block out light with heavy drapes and make it quiet and comfortable. Air conditioning helps on hot days, heating on cold ones. Eye masks and ear plugs are a cheap way to block out light and loud background noise.
- Let go of some things
Don’t obsess over general house tidiness, meals or entertaining others. It’s a time to help yourself and let others help you. Remember not to overreact when a baby cries. The usual reason for crying includes hunger, wet or dirty nappy, being over tired, the need to socialise, or being too hot or cold. However, sometimes babies cry for no obvious reason at all!
When feeding at night, do so in a quiet, dimly lit environment so that you can go back to sleep more easily when finished. This is not a time for socialisation with baby or with others. Avoid internet, mobile phone and TV at these times. These are alerting activities that can stop you getting back to sleep.
(Sleep Health Foundation, 2020)
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