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
- 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.