New Parent Sleep Strategies

Sleep may seem elusive to new parents, but it’s important for new moms to find ways to sleep when they can and make the most from the precious sleep they do get.

Here are some tips for getting more and better quality sleep:

  • Take care of yourself. Focusing on overall health and wellness can help you sleep better and can help you function better with little sleep.
    • Exercise. Finding motivation or energy to exercise may seem impossible, but even a light workout will help release endorphins, which can boost your energy and make you feel better. Although you should not do serious exercise until you see your doctor at your six week post-partum visit, light exercise has been shown to be helpful. 
    • Get enough fluids. It's important to stay hydrated, especially if you are breastfeeding. Eat. You may not feel like eating, but it’s important to give your body the fuel it needs to keep going. Try healthy, nutrient rich foods and snacks that will give you an energy boost. Find out what types of foods are most beneficial to your overall health.
  • Split up nighttime duties. Try sharing night duties so that both of you can get at least some sleep. For example:
  • Take turns feeding your baby.
  • Take turns being the one to handle all nighttime duties, from feeding to changing to soothing your baby.
  • Sleep in separate rooms, leaving one room free for the partner who isn’t on baby duty that night.
  • Take shifts. For example, one of you can take care of your baby from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and the other can be “on” from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m., so each of you can get at least four hours of sleep
  • Pump and sleep so your partner can feed your baby while you sleep.
  • Sleep when your baby sleeps, and go to bed when your baby does. Turn off your phone and make it a point to ignore household chores. They can wait. Your sleep is far more important.
  • Don't let your baby sleep with you. Bringing your baby to bed with you while you’re nursing or comforting him or her is fine, but it’s unsafe to sleep with your baby in your bed. Instead, try room sharing in a bassinette or portable crib so your baby can be close when they need to be fed or comforted. Visit our website for more information on infant safe sleep guidelines.  
  • Consider letting your baby fuss and cry sometimes. Crying and fussing during the night doesn’t always mean your baby is hungry. He or she may just be settling down. Unless it’s been more than two hours since the last feeding or you think your baby is uncomfortable, consider letting him or her cry for a few minutes before going in to offer comfort or food.
  • Use relaxation techniques and meditation. When you can’t sleep, try meditating or using the relaxation techniques you learned while you were pregnant. If you have trouble with active relaxation techniques, try listening to soothing music or white noise that can help ease your tension and reduce stress. Relaxing can help reduce the discomforts of sleep deprivation and make you feel more centered.
  • Look for support from other moms. Support groups can do a lot to help you get through the rough times. It can make you feel better just to know that you’re not alone and that other moms are accidentally putting diaper cream on their toothbrushes.
  • Ask for and accept help. If anyone old enough to care for your baby offers to help so you can rest, say yes. Even a short power nap can work wonders when you’re sleep deprived.
  • Remember this is temporary. Although it may seem like ages when you’re sleep deprived, you won’t likely have to get up multiple times a night for more than a couple months. It won’t be long before your baby will sleep long enough for you to get some decent sleep on a regular basis.
  • Treat yourself. Find time to treat yourself – even if it’s doing something simple. Take a bath or long, hot shower, paint your nails, get a massage, sit outside and relax, talk to a friend on the phone, write or journal, listen to some music, or go out to eat or shop for a while. Do what makes you feel good.

If you think you have a sleep problem that goes beyond simple sleep deprivation, consult your health care provider. The sooner you identify and treat an underlying sleep condition, the better. Taking care of yourself and making sure you get as much sleep as you can isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a good, healthy way to care for yourself and, in turn, your baby.