While first-time parents will be overcome with the magical experience that is having a newborn, they will also have to navigate a new territory of a changed sleep schedule. Babies wake more often during the night for feeding than adults are used to. In fact, on average many babies will wake up 2 to 3 times per night, and their sleep cycles are much shorter than adults causing them to wake or stir every 40 minutes!
First-time parents can help get through the sleep deprivation during the newborn stage by following a few tried, tested and true tips.
Coping With No Sleep During the Newborn Stage For First-Time Parents
Getting enough hours of sleep is as important to your physical and mental health as eating a nutritious diet and getting an adequate level of exercise each day. Sleep loss, or sleep deprivation, can cause new parents to feel forgetful, depressed, and bad-tempered. Looking after a newborn is tough as it is, but this can become even more of a challenge when you aren’t getting enough hours of sleep.
What Are the Sleep Patterns of a Newborn?
In general, newborns will sleep for 8 to 9 hours during the day and then about 8 hours at night. But, because they have a tiny stomach they need to wake up every few hours to feed. Most newborn babies don’t start sleeping through the night until at least 3 months old, at which point you can start their sleep training.
Top 7 Coping Strategies for Sleep-Deprived Parents
Here are a few expert tips to help improve parental sleep, and some strategies on coping with the sleep problems that arise with your newborn. With the right support, you’ll be able to fall asleep and improve your sleep quality.
1. Take advantage of the hospital nursery.
The hospital nurse is there for you to use, so don’t feel guilty! It’s your time to heal from giving birth, so you can rest while a trained professional helps take care of your baby for the few nights you are in the hospital.
2. Say no to added responsibility and don’t be afraid to accept help.
In many cases, new moms feel as if they should be the ones responsible for everything that they were doing before the baby arrived, on top of taking care of their newborn. Maybe you feel guilty about not spending enough time with your other children. But don’t lose sleep over it!
Try not to take on any extra responsibility during this tricky time. Your hands are already full with a newborn at home, and it’s important to keep in mind that you don’t win any prizes for becoming burnt out and tackling sleeplessness on your own, so don’t be afraid to ask your partner and your family for some help.
3. Practice good sleep hygiene.
Proper sleep hygiene can make all the difference when your newborn comes home. Getting a sleep routine in place for going to bed at the same time every night prepares your mind and body for bed. This is extremely helpful for when you need to sleep right when the baby does. Try setting a relaxing routine, like taking a warm bath or reading, plus minimize or eliminate the use of electronics a few hours before your bedtime.
4. Try some breathing exercises.
If you find you have trouble nodding off even when your baby is sleeping, try out some deep breathing techniques to help soothe and relax yourself. If that doesn’t work and you find your mind is still buzzing with thoughts, try writing them down to help empty your mind enough to drift off to sleep.
5. Maintain the best sleep environment for you and your baby.
In addition to establishing a great bedtime routine, it’s important to consider the environment you are sleeping in. Is your bedroom as relaxing as possible? Keep the clutter of the outside world out of your bedroom as these can be distracting to a good night’s rest.
6. Take turns as a team.
The best help available to you is staring right at you: your partner. Employing a bit of teamwork can make a huge difference. Taking turns at night to get up with the baby will help you both get some uninterrupted sleep and hopefully sleep longer.
7. Relax in other ways.
Sleep isn’t the only thing that can help you feel relaxed. Set time aside to listen to your favorite music, read a book, cook a delicious meal or work on a favorite hobby. You might think it would be impossible to get anywhere with a new hobby, but even a few minutes per day could help reduce your stress levels and take your mind off of your newborn for a little bit. It can also be a good idea to sit on the couch and watch your favorite shows, too.