According to my dear friend, the first few weeks with her newborn felt like pulling an all-nighter every night. Even the worst finals week in college was nothing compared to this level of ongoing sleep deprivation. When you're in the throes of newborn care, it's easy to question how much sleep you actually need in your first six months postpartum. Because even for people who can run on no sleep like a champ, those cumulative hours of missed shut-eye can wear you out.
It's no secret that new moms have to make do with far less sleep than needed. But the extent of this sleep deprivation may surprise you. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults ages 18 to 64 require seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Although it may be tricky to gauge the exact amount of sleep new parents are getting, the answer seems to be: not much. As noted in Health Day, the average parent loses about two hours of sleep each night until their newborn is around 5 months old. That said, it probably feels like even less sleep. Because your newborn's sleep patterns are so different from yours, you're probably not even getting a straight six hours of sleep at night, as noted by Parents. Whatever sleep you do get is fragmented and easily interrupted by a crying baby.
So how can new moms best cope with this seemingly inevitable sleep debt? There are a few tried-and-true tricks that may help out. As noted in Today's Parent, sleeping when the baby sleeps, instead of trying to catch up on your to-do list, works great for some parents. (Others, though, have found the "sleep when the baby sleeps" idea to be a lie.) For other parents, considering the extinction sleep training method may provide necessary rest. However you get through those first six months, though, it's sometimes helpful to remember that these days of intense sleep deprivation won't last forever. There will come a time when your baby learns to sleep through the night, and you might almost miss those round-the-clock feedings. Almost.