I’m so tired! How to get more sleep with a baby.
By Osteopath (and Mum) Janine Symington
It’s the struggle to get enough sleep with a newborn through the slog of those early months that is the bane of new parent life. Getting adequate rest can be the difference between roaming the sleep desert bleary eyed and feeling you are able to function and actually enjoy your newborn.
So what can you do?
Be unapologetic for prioritising sleep.
It’s helpful to adjust your expectations of yourself and what you want to achieve each day. House work will always still be there, so if you get a minute where the baby is down asleep, make sure to jump into bed too as a priority. See sleep as a job for you just like you do for your newborn.
Create the best sleep environment for a great sleep.
Your bedroom shouldn’t be your office or lounge. To associate it with sleep, you need to get all the clutter. Get rid of the computer and work desk, laundry or T.V and try and keep it as a dedicated sleep space. This can be harder with more mobile devices but try to charge your phone on the other side of the room or keep it face down. I know I was guilty of scrolling an hour away instead of prioritising sleep!
Ask for and accept help!
Mums of newborns need help! Ask for help from family and friends. Newborn babies sleep in short spurts over 24 hour periods, so having a nap during the day can help with some of those night time losses. Ask a friend or family member to walk your baby around the block in a sling or take your toddler out of the house and use it as an opportunity to nap.
Ask for help (again!!!)
Getting babies to sleep can be difficult and the more tired you and your baby get the more difficult it can be. There can be a time and place for helping your baby sleep for longer stretches. Find a sleep consultant that will take a gentle approach and help you set up sleep foundations or a sleep routine. Sleep deprivation is real and can have mental health and mood impacts. If you feel the need for help, reach out to one of them.
Routine (as much as possible).
While it may take a while for your newborn to get into a routine. You can try and create one for yourself as much as possible.
Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock and carry out essential functions.
One of the most important and well-known circadian rhythms is the sleep-wake cycle. When properly aligned, a circadian rhythm can promote consistent and restorative sleep. But when this circadian rhythm is thrown off, it can create significant sleeping problems.
Try to create a wind down routine and get to bed at the same time each night and keep your bedroom dark. This might mean handing over the reins to your partner to put the baby down or do the first feed of the night.
Eat well and exercise.
Eating well and exercising can also contribute to feeling and sleeping better. See if you can have some healthy snacks and meals on hand instead of turning to caffeine or chocolate. Also make it a priority to get out of the house each day or make time to move your body.
Finally watch out for the signs of sleep deprivation. Irritability, feeling overwhelmed, difficulty concentrating, feeling low, feeling tired all the time are all signs of sleep deprivation. Remember this will pass but in the meantime ask for help and make sleep a priority.