Parents of Newborns Are Exhausted – How Everyone Can Get More Sleep

Moms and dads alike suffer from a lack of sleep with newborns.

A mere 5 percent of parents with babies under six months old get the recommended eight hours of sleep each night. In fact, many aren’t even getting a few hours of uninterrupted sleep at night with 43 percent of new parents only getting an average of one to three hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Nighttime feedings, colic, diaper changes, and other needs can keep parents up at night. Even when the baby is sleeping, parents may lose sleep to other factors, including housework and worrying about providing a good life for their child.

Even for stay at home parents, the age-old advice of sleeping when the baby sleeps doesn’t actually happen: 41 percent say they can’t sleep during their baby’s naptimes.

New parents are so desperate for sleep that half of them would pay $100 or more for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. One in ten says they’d pay $1,000.

Healthy Sleep for the Whole Family

Sleep deprivation is a fact of life when you have a new baby. Sometimes, the only way out is through. Most babies start sleeping through the night by six months, so there is an end in sight. But there are ways to get better rest and improve the quality of your sleep in the early months with your child.

  • Practice healthy baby sleep habits. When your baby sleeps well at night, so can you. Start healthy sleep habits early, maintaining a consistent bedtime and naptime routine. Follow predictable patterns throughout the day, such as wake, eat, play, and sleep, so your baby learns that after playtime comes time to rest. Make bedtime more restful than naptimes, allowing household noise and light to persist during the day to reinforce daytime cues. At night, reinforce nighttime cues by keeping your baby’s nursery cool, dark, and quiet.

  • Say yes to help. Accept offers from friends and family members who want to help. Don’t be too proud to let someone bring dinner, or do your dishes or laundry, or just hold the baby while you take a quick nap or practice self-care.

  • Go to bed early. Don’t feel silly about going to bed when your baby does. Even if it’s 8 or 9 p.m., you may need those hours to fit enough sleep into your night.

  • Take shifts or alternate nights. When both parents can’t sleep through the night, everyone suffers. Uninterrupted sleep is best, so you’re able to get into deep, restorative sleep rather than shallow, choppy sleep that isn’t as restful. Try taking shifts, such as 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., then 2 a.m. to 6 a.m., with one partner on call to get up and tend to the baby’s needs for the entire shift while the other can sleep uninterrupted. Or, take the one night on, one night off approach so you can get a full night of uninterrupted sleep every other night. These approaches work best when the sleeping partner is isolated and able to rest without being disturbed.

Focus on your health. When you have a new baby, self-care can fall by the wayside. But it’s important to keep up with healthy habits including diet and exercise when you’re sleep deprived so you don’t fall into unhealthy patterns. Splurge on a new mattress and enjoy those few hours of sleep all the more. Make time to get exercise, such as walking with your baby in a stroller or carrier, and pay attention to what you’re eating. Casseroles dropped off by friends and family might be delicious, but take a break and have a salad or smoothie now and then so you’re not suffering from sleep deprivation along with poor dietary choices.

Sleep-help

Article written by the team at The Sleep Help Institute.

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