The dangers of sleep deprivation are real. For new parents, it's not surprising that sleep is hard to come by. Babies don't sleep through the night to allow their moms and dads an uninterrupted night of rest. And with a new baby in the house, parents suddenly discover that work stress seems increased, laundry duty has doubled and there's a constant stream of visitors anxious to meet your new bundle of joy.
What's a new mom to do? Strategize ways to get more sleep!
You know that you're not getting enough sleep, but be aware that anything less than six hours of sleep nightly can be hazardous to a person's health and safety. Sleep deprivation can increase feelings of depression and anxiety. The emotional consequences of sleep deprivation can cause or increase postpartum depression in women. It's vital to get enough sleep, even though balancing those extra naps seems difficult with so many new responsibilities in your everyday life.
Whenever the baby is sleeping, try to rest or take a nap. Babies develop sleep patterns and there will be a baby sleep period that is longer than most. It won't take you long to recognize your child's sleep schedule and adjust your own to be ready to catch some Zs. Take advantage of that period with a nap — the longer uninterrupted sleep period will be more restorative to you than simply catching a few minutes here and there. Be ready to rest by wearing comfortable clothes that you can sleep in.
When the baby goes to sleep, turn the ringer off on your phone and keep your bedroom dim so that you can relax and fall asleep quickly. No TV, no doing chores — you need to make getting the rest you need your first priority. For most exhausted parents in a baby fog, simply crawling under the covers and closing their eyes sends them right to dreamland. Being ready to rest means you'll take best advantage of the time.
The feeding schedule for your new baby is certainly an interruption to your normal sleep patterns, so make those times as calm and quiet as possible. Consider keeping a bassinette next to your bed so you can slip the sleeping child into it easily when feeding is completed — and take advantage of the calming effects of nursing to go back to sleep yourself when the feeding is over. If you are formula feeding, perhaps you can alternate nights with your partner. Sharing the night care and feedings means that each of you will get an uninterrupted night of sleep on alternate days.
Your work and household chores are important, but keep in mind that you'll do everything better and more quickly when you are getting enough rest. Make getting enough sleep a priority!
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