Often times, when sleep and parenthood are discussed, it's either in the context of the newborn's schedule or the torture-level absence of rest the parent is experiencing. It's almost become a punchline in every film and television show that the mom of a newborn will put the remote in the fridge or forget to put on pants because she's so exhausted. But sleep deprivation is no joke. How can a person be expected to care for another human if they aren't caring for themselves, too? That's why it's so important to consider bedtime routines for new moms that actually work.
They say to sleep when the baby sleeps, but it's either impossible because your body's inner clock is completely thrown off or you'd rather get caught up on all the chores that are difficult to do when the baby is awake. Still, adequate rest is essential for new moms regardless if this is their first or fifth baby.
I'll admit, I was hesitant to even admit I needed help getting sleep because it felt like I wouldn't be living up to the "wonder woman" expectations society has placed on mothers. Yet once I found a sleep system that fit my lifestyle, I never again doubted the importance of self care. So check out these bedtime routines for new moms that actually work, because mothers need sleep, too.
Most parents are running on adrenaline anyways, so a good bedtime routine for new moms is to try even if you don't think you're sleepy. Diana Lynn Barnes, therapist and president of Postpartum Health International, told Parents, that new moms should, "lie down even if you can't sleep. Get off your feet, relax on the couch, and stay off the phone."
Just like a date night needs candles and mood music, a new mom's bedtime routine needs a calm setting. According to The Mayo Clinic, you should make sure your environment is suited for sleep by keeping your bedroom cool and dark.
Sometimes the best approach is the straightforward, no frills kind. The same logic can apply to bedtime, too. Dr. Michael Thorpy and Dr. Shelby Freedman Harris of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center told The New York Times that new parents should, "keep the routine uncomplicated, simple and always in the direction toward the bed."
It's nice to unwind with a little mindless swiping and scrolling, but Dr. Amy Wolfson, author of The Women's Book of Sleep, told Parents that going tech-free is helpful for new moms trying to get sleep.
Even wrestlers know that tapping out is part of the game. So Mayo Clinic suggested you switch out with your partner during bedtime. "If you're breastfeeding, your partner can bring you the baby and handle nighttime diaper changes," the site noted. Just because dads can't lactate doesn't mean they're off the hook for helping out.
Having struggled with insomnia and postpartum depression, sleep always felt elusive to me as a new mom. However, at the suggestion of my doctor, I created a bedtime routine and followed it without fail even if I didn't feel like it was working. The repetitive nature and consistency ended up doing the trick about a week or two into things.
One of the joys of having a new baby is showing your loved ones how precious they are. But too many guests can interfere with a new mom's bedtime routine. Dr. Wolfson told Parents, "when friends and family stop in to visit the new baby, women may feel obligated to entertain, prepare food, and keep people happy." You don't have to kick people out, but you can put out a general notice that "visiting hours" will only be during certain times.