My best friend is somewhat of a superhero. After giving birth, she was writing her dissertation, studying for orals, and teaching two classes. These tasks were only made more difficult by having a baby who didn't sleep for the first six months of his life. Like, at all. Seriously, I don't know how she did it, but she managed to get some shuteye by being creative with things to help you sleep when your baby isn't.
Although I'm not a mom (yet), I have suffered from insomnia all my life. So, the idea of having a little one with the same problem scares me. What if I'm not a superhero like my friend? How will I get my life stuff done and get some sleep? I know comparing is a fruitless exercise, but I can't resist the unhealthy temptation. Especially because one thing that feeds my insomnia is the stress over not being able to sleep. This, however, is one of the most common causes of insomnia. According to the National Sleep Foundation, stress causes hyperarousal. And if your baby isn't sleeping, chances are you're stressing and suffering from hyperarousal. According to Today's Parent, a baby who's not sleeping can cause major mommy duress.
But don't despair. Yes, you're sleep deprived, and that's the pits. But there are ways to get more sleep as a new mom, even if your baby refuses to snooze.
1. Try The Ferber Method
I know some moms don't want to leave a crying baby, well, crying. However, there are pros to letting your baby cry it out, or the Ferber Method, named after sleep expert, Dr. Richard Ferber, director of The Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children's Hospital Boston. Ferber told Parents that his method involves a gradual process "where you delay your response time to your baby's wakings."
In other words, you're teaching your baby to self-soothe by not getting up at the first murmur, or if your baby wakes during the night. Ferber said there are always exceptions to his method, but the idea that you don't have to be glued to your baby monitor 24/7 might help you get some rest during the hours when your baby isn't wailing, especially if you research the Ferber Method.
2. Try To Nap When You Can
Naps are for everyone. So, take advantage of the time when your baby naps, and drop everything (leave those dirty dishes in the sink; step away from your email) and take a nap yourself.
3. Try A Massage
Prevention cited a study published in the Journal For Holistic Nursing that suggested women who received a slow stroke massage slept more. And this slow stroke massage only has to last three minutes, according to the study. Prevention went on to explain that even three minutes of relaxation can help the body produce feelings of calm, which can lead to better sleep.
So if your little one isn't sleeping, put on some headphones and ask your partner, friend, or you can even pay someone to come to your house and give you a massage. Reap the benefits of relaxation, so when you finally get to hit the hey, you can enjoy restful sleep.
4. Try Asking Family And Friends For Help
It's not always easy to ask for help, especially when you're an independent woman. But you can hand off your crying baby to your BFF because you were there for her, so she's got you now. Even if it's just for an hour, Baby Center noted that it's important to take care of yourself as a new mom, and one way to do that is to enlist a good support network.
5. Try Horizontal Breastfeeding
If you breastfeed, you might want to consider horizontal breastfeeding to help you get a couple moments of rest, suggested Today's Parent. According to the article, you can rest while you lie down and your baby might actually drift off too. (Note: If your baby suffers from reflux, this method is not recommended, because he or she will need to burp after eating.)
6. Try To Unplug At A Designated Time
Researchers from Wayne State University in the United States and Sweden's Karolinska Institute indicated that people who slept with their phones next to them slept less deeply. Huffington Post, which cited the study, explained that people exposed to 884 MHz wireless signals during sleep had inhibited sleep, compared to people who didn't sleep with their phones.
Also, when you sleep with your phone, you're more likely to feel "plugged in," the article mentioned. And from experience, that induces stress and provides tons of external distractions. When your baby isn't sleeping, you may want to go online to see how other moms are dealing, but eventually, you should unplug to get some rest.
7. Try A Sleep App
Leat's be real, you don't have to unplug all the time. In your downtime, which, as a new mom you might not have a ton of, try a sleep app to help you rest, even when your baby isn't. Many new apps let you sleep for a limited time or guide you through yoga and meditation. Even if you're not sleeping per se, these apps can help you relax.
8. Try To Stay Away From Caffeine
Coming from a woman who doesn't have problems with coffee, but problems without it, I know how difficult it can be to say "no" to that afternoon latte. But according to Psychology Today, caffeine late in the day can inhibit sleep, so try to set boundaries about when you get your fix, especially if your baby isn't sleeping.
9. Try To Skip The Wine
Oh, the sweet grape of Dionysus. Seductive? Totally, especially when you're stressed out over your baby who refuses to sleep. But according to Healthline, alcohol is a depressant, so it might not be the wisest choice for dealing with your problems.
10. Try Being Honest With Your Boss
If you're a working mom and sleep deprived, chances are you're struggling at your job. Although every parent handles sleep deprivation differently, and can't fully understand your experience (because it's yours) explained Parents, if you have a good relationship with your boss, be honest and tell her what's going on in your life. It's been my experience that bosses are more understanding when they know what's going on with you. You don't want them to think you're lazy, right?
11. Try Hypnotherapy
Psychologist and researcher at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, Bjorn Rasch told WebMD that hypnosis can improve restorative sleep. So, even if you're not sleeping as many hours as you'd like because your baby isn't sleeping, if you try hypnotherapy, there's a chance the quality of your sleep will improve. It's worth a shot, right?