10 Tips for Managing New Baby Sleep Deprivation
It’s inevitable that at some point parents will experience sleep deprivation with a new baby. From experience, parents will describe a feeling similar to intense jet leg, a disorientating haze that doesn’t shift. Adapting to a new baby’s schedule can feel impossible. Parents frequently feel exasperated by professionals telling them to “sleep when the baby sleeps.”
Babies are designed to feed frequently in the early days hence, sleeping little and often. All babies are unique with their own personalities, and some are more sensitive to the environment. I will write more about helping newborns with the transition from womb to world in the future.
However, over the years I have found that parents sometimes need support getting back from the brink of exhaustion, which is essential. Self-care is paramount for you and your baby.
Here are ten tips to help you get smarter about your own sleep:
- You are not alone. Every new parent experiences sleep deprivation at some point, within the first 6 months.
- If your baby is in their moses basket/cot and is awake but happy and safe, it is completely acceptable to continue resting in the same room.
- If a trusted family member/friend offers to help, so you can get some rest, trust your instinct. Some babies simply will not tolerate this, which leads to everyone feeling more stressed. My advice would be if your baby has fed, is calm and settled, rest in another room. With instructions to wake you if needed. It may only be 30 minutes at first but it all helps. If your instinct says I cannot leave my baby then listen to this. Ask your friend/family member to help in other ways like cooking, helping with laundry etc. Anything that frees up your mind.
- Limit visitors. It can be exhausting having too many visitors in the early stages, so do not be afraid to say no to people.
- Practice good sleep hygiene yourself. Try and stay away from phones, screens and bright lights during the night. In an ideal world, I would recommend stopping all these activities 90 minutes before bed, however it can be difficult to know when this is in the early stages. I recommend as a family you start winding down at a certain time if you can, you may find reducing stimulus in only one room can help calm a newborn.
- If you can’t sleep when the baby is sleeping try a meditation app. This is something I often recommend to parents who find it really helpful. An app such as “Insight Timer” has multiple uses and I would recommend exploring it. To begin with if you are struggling to sleep when they are sleeping, why not try one of the many sleep meditations? If you don’t like one, try another. If you only have half an hour, try Yoga Nidra meditation which aims to give you very deep relaxation whilst maintaining full consciousness. You may at first feel this is not really doing much but stick with it. Often when you start to relax it can have a knock-on effect on your infant.
- Limit the caffeine. It’s tempting to use caffeine to cope; however, it can get you into a vicious cycle if abused. It can prevent you from getting to sleep, and add to feelings of anxiety. It can also speed up the heart rate, and babies are designed to feel more secure when they hear the mother’s heartbeat.
- A balanced diet. Treats are definitely necessary in my opinion; however existing purely on sugar is a recipe for disaster. It can add to dips in mood and energy crashes. Not what you need.
- Self Care. This will change initially from a time pre-baby, however completely necessary and important. It obviously depends on the individual and how much time you have. It may also be difficult to predict initially when you get these time gaps so its good to have some ideas readily available. The key is to make time for you. It may be a relaxing bath, reading a book, watching Gilmore girls. Something that makes you happy.
- Be kind to yourself. The fact that you are tired means you are putting your baby’s needs first, it will get easier.
These are just some key points to try and get you started but there are plenty of additional things to consider such as; hormones, mood, traumatic delivery etc. This time is just as unique for parents as it is for babies. If you feel you would benefit from specialist support please get in contact.
Just give me a call if you’d like help managing “new baby sleep deprivation.” I look forward to hearing from you.
The information on this website is for general information and it is not intended as, nor should it be considered as a substitute for seeing your own GP, midwife or healthcare professional. You are advised to seek professional medical advice if you have any concerns or suspect you have a medical problem.