It’s one of life’s great ironies: as a new parent, rest is an essential ingredient for getting through those early days, yet at no other time in your life is it more elusive.
But just as sleep is essential for a baby’s wellbeing, it’s also a crucial ingredient for you as a new parent too. Being rested means you’ll be better equipped to handle the demands of a newborn, or if you’re a working parent, to function at the office during the day.
Fedhealth provides six life hacks for getting (quality) sleep as a new parent:
Sleep separately from your partner
If you have the space and resources, it may be worth sleeping in separate beds or even separate rooms in those first few weeks, so that you don’t wake the other person while you’re doing the night-time wake ups. In this way, each of you gets at least a few hours of unbroken sleep even while your baby is awake.
Learn to nap
Although many people claim to be bad at napping, it’s worth practicing, especially when night sleep is difficult. Even if all you do is lie down for a while, the practice of resting your body and mind is recuperative and helpful, whether you sleep or not.
And, even a catnap of 20 or 30 minutes can be all you need to get that extra energy you need. In fact, many new sleep-deprived parents feel that a nap of two hours or more during the day can make them even feel more tired than if they didn’t have a sleep at all.
Check your mattress
If your mattress has seen a few years, you might want to check it for lumps and sags – the last thing you want when you do get to bed is not being able to sleep from discomfort.
A memory foam mattress-topper can help create supportive cushioning, but it can’t disguise an over-tired mattress. At this stage in your life, upgrading your bed is an investment that’s well worth it.
Go easy on the alcohol
You may consider that early evening glass of wine essential in getting you through the feeding, bath and bedtime routine – but unfortunately, the quality of your sleep will suffer as a result.
Clinical studies have found that drinking before bed initially acts as a sedative, but later on results in disrupted sleep. Try not drinking during the week, or at least going a few days completely alcohol-free to improve the quality of sleep you’re getting (even if it is less than ever before).
Go to bed early
It’s tempting to stay up late after your baby has gone to sleep. After all, this is your chance to catch up on social media, reply to all those Whatsapps, and feel a part of the “real world” again. But Dr Matt Walker, head of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California in Berkeley, says that the later the hour of night, the more your sleep becomes lighter and more REM-driven – which means less deep, restorative sleep. At least once a week, try going to sleep soon after your baby does, at say 7 or 8pm.
Being a new parent can be isolating, so saying no to social occasions can be hard. And, a new baby means lots of visits from friends and families who want to meet your bundle of joy. But if you’re feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, it’s more important that you get proper downtime than that you keep on top of your social calendar.
Don’t be scared to say no if you’re not up for a visit or outing; most people will understand that this is a phase, and that you need to conserve every bit of energy you have.