What an irony that taking care of a newborn requires mothers to be at their sharpest and most well-rested. Yet, this is such a taxing time, that most new moms never even fathomed that they could feel this exhausted. Not only does your baby think of you as his 24 hour milk factory, you are changing the messiest diapers ever, and trying to keep your home in some semblance of order. It's no wonder you feel more like a Mombie than a mommy. All you really want is to figure out how to get more sleep as a new mom.
Health Day reports that new parents lose about two hours of sleep per night for the first five months after bringing home their baby. That is 730 hours, or a little over 30 days of lost sleep in the first year. Yeah. Scary AF. At just 5.1 hours of sleep per night according to Daily Mail, it is a far cry from The National Sleep Foundation's recommendation of seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
But don't fear, there really are some ways for new moms to get more sleep in the first weeks after your baby is born.
1. Use The Hospital Nursery
I know that this sounds like the last thing that you would want to do after seeing your baby for the first time, but if you were up all night in labor, you are already starting your baby's life in sleep debt. WebMD suggests to take advantage of the hospital nursery for a night or two. This will help you rest, and make it that much easier to cope when you are sent home.
2. Share The Overnight Responsibilities
When you are nursing, it may feel as though you are on duty 24/7, and sleep deprivation will eventually catch up with you. OB-GYN Marjorie Greenfield told Parents that sleep deprivation is a component to postpartum depression. Even if it means that your spouse has to give the baby a bottle overnight, you need at least one full night's sleep every few days.
3. Sleep When The Baby Sleeps
All new moms get this advice, and some really hate it. But the reality is that if you are trying to do everything while your baby naps, you are going to be extra tuckered-out in the middle of the night. Even if you sleep one hour during the day, it will help alleviate your overall sleep debt. The New York Times suggests that enlisting the help of others can help new moms adjust to fragmented sleep patterns.
4. Ask For Help Around The House
Margaret Park, an assistant sleep specialist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, told WebMD that new moms should accept any help that is offered. “People think of sleep as a luxury, but it is a medical requirement," she said. By taking your relative or friend up on their offer of help, you can use your baby's nap time to catch a few winks rather than doing laundry or washing dishes.
5. Don't Be Afraid To Decline Invitations
You don't have to accept every invitation, in fact, most people expect you to decline here and there during your first few months as a mom. Susan Zafarlotfi, clinical director of the Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center, told WebMD that moms should not take on any extra responsibilities when they have a newborn at home. If this means not baking cookies for the school bake sale or not hosting book club this month, everyone will understand.
6. Sleep With Your Baby Close By
Some moms swear by putting their baby in the nursery the moment they get home from the hospital, but it isn't the most practical scenario for all new moms. The longer it takes you to reach your crying baby, the fussier he will be when nursing, and maybe even take that much longer to fall back to sleep. Being able to reach over and pick your baby up right away can help both of you fall back to sleep right away.
7. Say 'No' To Too Many Visitors
You don't have to play hostess every day after your baby is born. Reader's Digest recommends that you ask friends and relatives to limit their social visits, unless they are specifically coming by to help so that you can rest, until your partner is home from work. Those who love you will understand that you are still figuring out a daytime routine with the new baby.
8. Get To Bed Early
It may sound nice to stay up late or hang out with some friends after the baby is asleep, but you will regret it when she's wailing 15 minutes after you've finally gotten to bed. Wait until your baby is sleeping for longer periods of time before making evening plans. That way, even if you stay up an extra couple of hours, you will still get a good two to three hours of sleep before you are up for the next feeding.
9. No Screen Time Before Bed
It's normal to want to check your social media or catch up with the DVR once baby is in bed. But, Parents warns tired moms not to watch television or work at the computer 30 minutes before bedtime. This is because being exposed to the blue and white light given off by phones and laptops prevents your brain from releasing melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep, according to Business Insider.