For new moms, one of the most alarming adjustments happens in regards to sleep. And though nothing can prepare you for the challenge of waking up multiple times per night to feed and soothe a newborn child, there are some strategies parents can use to get better rest.
5 Helpful Tips to Counteract Sleep Deprivation
Sleep is something you’ve probably taken for granted in the past, but now that it’s problematic, it’s important that you understand what’s actually happening when you shut your eyes and how you can make the most out of this time.
There are two main types of sleep: non-REM sleep (NREM) and rapid eye movement sleep (REM). NREM sleep generally accounts for 75 percent of the average person’s sleep time. REM sleep accounts for just one-fourth of sleep time.
In the course of a normal night, you’ll go through four to five sleep cycles. Each cycle – lasting between 70 and 120 minutes – begins in light NREM sleep and ends with deep REM sleep.
“In order to achieve good quality sleep, you need to reach deep sleep and REM sleep as much as possible,” Perfect Cloud explains. “It’s during these phases that physical and mental restoration takes place. Benefits include: strengthened immune system, restoration of strength and function to tissue, muscles, and organs, improved learning and memory, and better cognitive functioning.”
The problem is that, as a new mom, you find it difficult to reach REM sleep as much as you should. As a result, you’re left struggling to keep up during the daytime.
Though there’s no perfect answer to counteracting sleep deprivation – other than to get seven or eight hours of quality sleep every night – the following suggestions will help you survive this brutal season:
Sleep When Your Baby Sleeps
It sounds like such cliché advice, but you should make it a point to sleep whenever your baby sleeps. Whether it’s late-morning, early- afternoon, or even dinnertime, take advantage of these moments. You never know what the night will look like and need to leverage whatever opportunity you have to get some additional shut-eye. Even a quick 30-minute nap can do wonders for your energy levels.
If you’ve returned to work and you don’t have the luxury of napping during the day, you may have to get creative. For example, if you get off work at 5 p.m. and the daycare doesn’t close until 6 p.m., you could use this extra hour to get a quick nap in before the evening. Seriously – do whatever it takes!
Divvy Up Responsibilities
If you’re married or living with a partner, it’s perfectly fair to divvy up responsibilities. Don’t feel like you have to breastfeed every night. It’s perfectly acceptable to pump and have your partner wake up every other night to handle feeding sessions.
Get Some Help
Sometimes it’s not enough to divvy up responsibilities. Even with two people, it can be hard to parent a newborn and get enough sleep to function at work or in other key areas of responsibility. In these cases, don’t feel guilty about getting some outside help in the form of a night-sitter. Even if it’s just one or two nights per week, this little bit of extra, uninterrupted sleep will do wonders for your health and happiness.
Create the Proper Sleep Environment
One of the more frustrating things that happens is when a mom can’t fall asleep after feeding the baby. This is typically a result of stress or a poor sleeping environment that makes it difficult to fall back asleep.
To increase your ability to fall asleep quickly, try to optimize your bedroom and create an ideal sleep environment. It should be dark, cool, and comfortable. Avoid nightlights, TVs, or even alarm clocks that emit too much ambient light.
Avoid Excessive Caffeine
This may seem like cruel advice to a sleep-deprived mom of a newborn, but excessive caffeine isn’t helping your problem. Though a cup of coffee may provide an immediate jolt of energy, it stays in your system and makes it more difficult to fall asleep later on. Instead, opt for water. It has an energizing effect, too, but won’t affect you when it’s time to sleep.
Keep Things in Perspective
Again, there’s not a whole lot you can do to overcome sleep deprivation (other than getting more uninterrupted sleep). However, by implementing some of these techniques and remembering that this is only a temporary season in your life, you can survive and – dare we say – thrive as a new mom.