It’s commonly thought of as normal for new parents to be sleep deprived, but going without enough shuteye is hard on your health. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid sleep loss associated with a new infant. Here’s how to ensure you get enough slumber so you can be a terrific mom to your little one.
Common But Not Good
Everyone recognizes the difficulty a baby brings to sleeping situations, and in fact, some studies indicate as little as 5 percent of parents with a baby 6 months old or younger get a full night of sleep. As Very well Health points out, during their first year, babies need between 14 and 15 hours of sleep per 24-hour period, and the average adult requires around eight hours of sleep. While it’s traditional to “sleep when the baby sleeps,” unfortunately this theory doesn’t play out well for many moms. Not only do some people not sleep well during the daytime, but broken sleep patterns can also be as unhealthy as going without. We need sleep for our minds and bodies to recover from the experiences of the day, processing information and making repairs from wear and tear. Insufficient sleep is linked to a variety of concerns, all of which can get in the way of a mom performing at her best. If you get too little sleep, you can experience brain fog, memory issues, and an inability to focus, and you can become more accident prone. Thankfully, there are many actions you can take to ensure you stay rested.
Check Your Sleep Environment
Harvard Medical School explains that a proper environment can make a big impact on how well you sleep at night. Cool temperatures, darkness, and quiet can all contribute to better sleep. Take a hard look at your surroundings, and think about whether your bedroom has room for improvement. For instance, light-blocking window treatments can help make the room darker, and selecting a cozy, uncluttered decor can help you feel at ease. And consider adding a soothing scent, such as lavender essential oil, to encourage relaxation.
Enlist Some Help
If at all possible, consider finding assistance for helping with your little one, whether in the form of your partner, mother-in-law, or a close friend. Ideally, this person could help with nighttime feedings, so consider someone who lives close by. Think about asking someone you know who is a night owl and won’t mind giving you occasional respite, and if that won’t work out, try enlisting help for the occasional overnight or at least for part of your evening or early morning so you can get some shuteye close to your normal time. In order for this to work, new moms who are breastfeeding should encourage their babies to take a bottle sooner rather than later. If you’re too tired to complete household chores and you can afford the expense, look to hire some help around the house. For instance, you could hire a cleaning service to come in every couple of weeks to give yourself a break.
Establish Healthy Patterns
Moms are often naturally inclined to be on the alert for their baby awakening at night. Some babies tend to be better sleepers than others, but once your infant reaches the 6-week-old mark, you can work on guiding your little one toward healthy sleep habits. If you haven’t already done so, begin a bedtime ritual to help your infant settle into a rhythm. Make the crib your baby’s primary place to sleep, sing lullabies, and shut out the lights in the nursery. While adults like temperatures on the cool side for sleeping, some research indicates infants don’t adapt to temperature changes as well as adults and require a warmer sleep environment. Aim for 68 to 72 degrees in the nursery, and check her chest area to see if she feels warm and comfortable. Sweating or damp hair means she is too hot, and a cool chest or blue lips means she is too cold. Adding a onesie under your baby’s pajamas can often help with comfort if she is cold.
Having a baby doesn’t mean you need to suffer without sleep. Look at the environment and alter habits to encourage good slumber for you and your little one. With a few sensible changes, you can get the rest you need to be a great mom.