Sleep is important. If you do not get enough, it can lead to a lack of focus, short temper and irritable. You may feel like wanting to sleep anywhere! Having a newborn baby can lead to you not getting enough so I thought I would share my experiences with you.
Sleeping for me has always been a problem, not being able to get to sleep then ironically, not being able to wake up and often when I did, feeling worse for it. This was me not getting enough sleep during the night and this only got worse when my baby came along for both me and my partner. But why do we sleep? Why do we need it?
- Sleeping boosts immunity to infections, a great bonus when your little one seems to catch every cold under the sun.
- For those image conscious ones, it can help you keep that weight off too by affecting the amount of (science stuff here!) Leptin you produce (a hormone that makes you feel hungry).
- Sleep can also help boost mental wellbeing and help with things like depression that I wrote about recently.
- It can help prevent diabetes and ward of heart disease… do not ask me how, I am not doctor but this is what the doctors have said!
- For those looking at having a baby, it can also increase your sex drive and fertility! Though I will leave that information to you to explore on your own!
So far then, there are loads of benefits for getting sleep but we all know what it is like to be deprived of it when you have a new born. The wishing and longing that they would sleep through the night. The lack of sleep can be a cause of many arguments and worst case, splitting which, and this, as we all know, is not good for our children. This Dad knows this only to well the struggles! So what can you do about it? How can you get more sleep when you have a newborn baby?
- One thing we can not do is force our children to sleep. Instead, we can try to understand why they wake and look for solutions to improve it long term. Making feed times more lively during the day and quiet and calm at night can help, setting a simple bedtime routine from 3 months and even giving your baby a chance to fall asleep when they are tired on her/his own rather than rocking them. This is a whole different subject and a long term fix.
- When you are tired, learn to talk and listen to each other. Share your feelings with each other so that you can both understand how you feel. Do not get frustrated or when you or your partner does, remember it is the lack of sleep.
- Develop a sleep routine for yourself. Set some strict rules that include using a night filter on your phone or tablet after a certain time, have reduced lighting in your rooms and avoid TV upto half hour before you go to bed. We need about 8 hours of sleep a night so also try to plan your bedtime to be 8 hours before you expect to wake up in the morning or just go to bed when you are tired instead of finishing watching that film.
- Take it in turns to get up to tend to your baby during the night. This can be over the course of a night or every other night. Do what works for you.
- You do not both have to wake up at the same time, you can take it in turns to let your partner have a layin! Yes, a layin, do you remember what one of them is? Even half hour can help greatly.
- Try to have a nap whilst your baby sleeps during the day where possible. I find having a half hour kip is more than ample for me and still gives me a chance to get some things done around the house.
- Get a routine going, we all know breast is best but pumping can mean that Dad can take part in feeds and help build that precious bond whilst giving mum a chance to sleep.
- Try sleeping in different rooms for the early months if you need to have a great nights sleep allowing your partner to take the strain. There is mixed research with co-sleeping with your baby but there is a huge benefit with sleeping with our baby in a Moses basket/cot in the same room.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine up to 5 hours before bed. This can stay in your system and affect the quality of your sleep no matter what you are used to.
- Turn down the baby monitor, not to a level you will not hear them cry but newborns are very active sleepers, they wiggle and squirm and make lots of noises. If these disturb your sleep because you are a light sleeper, turn the volume down enough so they do not disturb you.
- Seek help from your GP if you really need to have some help and you are struggling. They may be able to help with more personalised ideas.
- Get a stand-in, someone like Grandma or Grandad who can sleep over for a night enabling you to get a whole nights sleep. It will not only be great for you, but it can be lovely for your own parents to build up a relationship with your baby.
Catching up on sleep is nothing you can do in just one night, having an extra hour in bed is not going to make up for months of reduced or broken sleep. This process can take much longer so making sure you sleep as much as you can with a newborn is a must for both you, your partner and your baby. This is why it is important to try to get as much as you need and can every night.
What tips do you have that could mean you get more sleep or how to deal with the lack of it?