Top 8 Sleep Tips for New Parents
We all know the essence of getting enough sleep, but if only it were that easy for new parents! Becoming a new parent means you're bound to a world of interesting and surprising changes. With multiple feeds per night and unexpected diaper changes in the wee hours of the night, new parents will struggle with their new, inconsistent sleep pattern.
The truth is that you can't adjust how often your newborn wakes you up at night. But that's not to say that you'll always have trouble sleeping. Adjusting some pre-bedtime routines can set you up for success in your infant's first weeks and months of life and later phases of development. Find out more about this subject of discussion by reading the guide below.
Parents and Sleep Deprivation
New parents find it difficult to fall or stay asleep due to feedings, diaper changes in the wee hours, and not forgetting the stress of having a child. Sleep deprivation can negatively impact your mood, health, safety, and, most importantly, longevity. Given below are some of the effects of sleep deprivation that new parents should know:
- Irritability: Inadequate sleep can make you irritable, prompting you to hurl insults at friends, spouses, and coworkers, among others.
- Anxiety and Depression: You are more likely to have bad moods and depression if you do not get enough sleep. Consider informing your doctor if you have any symptoms of poor mental health.
- Accidents and Injuries: Insufficient sleep can drive you to have slower reaction times, which may increase the likelihood of accidents, including car crashes. It would be better to avoid driving or operating any machinery when you're deprived of sleep.
Insufficient sleep can also affect new parents in the following ways:
- Sleep Deprivation and Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression, defined as mild to profound depression that occurs within three months of delivery in mothers, is a result of sleep deprivation. This disorder affects at least 10% of new mothers.
Treatment for this disorder entails getting as much rest as necessary, socializing, and seeking caregiving assistance from friends, partners, and family. You can also consult your healthcare provider to recommend medication and therapy to help alleviate your symptoms.
- Sleep Deprivation and Parenting
As per research, insufficient sleep can also harm positive parenting. One way to exercise positive parenting is by being responsive to your baby. Research shows that parents with sleep deprivation have higher stress levels, which is linked to difficulty regulating hormones. This clarifies why parents with fragmented sleep exhibit less positive parenting in the period before their baby's bedtime as opposed to those with enough sleep.
Sleep Tips for New Parents
Getting enough sleep motivates you to care for your newborn, so figuring out what suits you and your child is essential. Infants sleep for shorter periods than adults. They sleep in 1-3 hour intervals, meaning you are both awake multiple times at night.
The following tips are of paramount importance to new parents:
- Plan Night Shifts in Advance
Between the first weeks and months of giving birth, you should develop a night shift system where each parent takes turns attending to the child. You can alternate baby care responsibilities like diaper changes, overnight feeding, burping, and more.
Unfortunately, night shifts don't work for everyone, especially single parents or a family where one partner works overnight. But in households where both parents have the same working schedule, sharing the late-night chores can help everyone have a good night's sleep.
The extra sleep provided by alternating duties can help parents susceptible to postpartum depression.
Single parents can ask family members to help them handle nighttime duties. This approach can also be helpful for families where one partner works overnight.
- Jumpstart Baby's Internal Clock
Create a clear distinction between night and day, so your baby's sleep-wake cycle grows appropriately. Light is a powerful influencer and regulator of your circadian rhythm, so make the most of it. For example, you can organize a 6 p.m or 7 p.m bedtime feeding, and as nightfall nears, switch to low lights and put your blackout curtains to use in the sleeping area.
Avoid bright light at all costs when you're awake with the baby. Ensure the baby gets enough sunlight during the day and engage them in physical activity, such as playing on the baby mat. This should help differentiate active daytime from sleepy nights.
- Transform Your Bedroom into a Total Sleep Sanctuary
Room-sharing is critical for your baby's safety and health during the initial 6-12 months of their life, as it can lower the risk of SIDS by about 50%. Besides prioritizing darkness, put your baby's crib close to your bed, set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature, and purchase a white noise machine to steer clear of possible disruptions.
You can also try a futon mattress, particularly the MAXYOYO Japanese futon mattress, to enhance your sleep quality. This mattress is great if you'd like a balance of comfort and support at a pocket-friendly price. The balanced design and medium firmness provide the right level of contouring, a feature that's primarily important for those with chronic pain.
- Take Baby on Morning Wake-up Walks
It's the last thing you can do when you're exhausted, but when your doctor fully supports you, take the baby for a morning stroll in the sun. Even 5 minutes of exercise can improve your sleep quality when it's time to rest. Above all, the light can aid in resetting your infant's and your internal clock, stimulating the release of serotonin. This provides you with a feel-good boost to get through the day.
- Create a Relaxing Bedtime Ritual
A perfect sleep-time routine should be soothing, familiar, and repetitive. Do something comforting, be it watching your favorite movie, reading a novel, or listening to soothing music. Another option is to take a warm bath so you can sleep better due to the subsequent decrease in your body temperature.
- Ask for Help from Visitors
There's nothing wrong with seeking assistance when the inevitable arrival of visitors begins. Ask your visitors to help, even if it's for 1 hour, while you take a quick nap to refresh your body.
- Nap Whenever Possible
Sleeping while the baby sleeps can prove difficult with mounting household chores. However, even short naps that last 10-15 minutes can help you recharge and lower your stress level.
- Talk to Your Doctor
Struggling with sleep deprivation? It's time to see your doctor. Inform your doctor about the problems you're experiencing before and after giving birth. This way, you'll avoid developing thyroid issues and postpartum depression due to insufficient sleep.
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