Labor Day: 6 Ways For New Parents To Get More Sleep
Sleep is something you just don't get when you have a newborn, but unfortunately, our bodies need sleep. We lose our ability to function efficiently when we don't get enough sleep. When we have a family to provide for and an infant to look after, being able to function efficiently is crucial. Here are 6 coping tips for sleep-deprived parents of newborns.
Make Sleep Your Top Priority
There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done, but don't sacrifice your sleep to do it all. You know you'll be up most of the night taking care of your baby so you have to work around that. That may mean taking scheduled naps or setting a hard time to go to bed and sticking to it. If it means saving the dish washing until morning, so be it. Your sleep is more important than having clean dishes.
If you're back at work, don't be afraid to say no to new projects. Every little thing that you add to your to-do list is taking a bit more time away from your sleep schedule. Being overwhelmed at work may stress you out and cause additional sleep loss. You could end up spreading yourself too thin between taking care of your family and getting your job done. Without adequate sleep, both could suffer.
You can hire someone to take care of just about everything you need to get done: clean the house, walk the dog, cook your meals. It may be expensive, but it can be a temporary solution for your sanity. Having someone take a few things off your plate while you get used to having a new human being in the house could be the difference between getting three hours and five hours of sleep at night. And you probably won't regret it, even if it means cutting back on other luxuries.
Come Up With A Co-Parent System
Most of the sleep you do get will be interrupted frequently. Try to make sure each parent gets a good stretch of uninterrupted sleep. That could mean one parent goes to bed at 6pm so Mom or Dad can be ready to take over parenting duties at 9pm or it could mean alternating duties by when the baby wakes up. Having a good system in place may give you a better chance at getting the rest you need.
Even if there's no baby in your life, having a smart phone, television or computer in your bedroom could disrupt your sleep. Any kind of light can block melatonin production, including the light from electronics. Our bodies make melatonin to help regulate sleep, so when there's not enough melatonin released during our regular sleeping hours, we don't sleep as well. Putting off your favorite TV show until you're in the living room is a small price to pay for getting a little extra sleep.
Sleep When Baby Sleeps
This may seem like an obvious solution, but it's something you will likely need to remind yourself often. When your baby is awake, he is the center of everything your world, which can make everything from putting on sweatpants to pouring a glass of milk a challenge. When he goes down for a nap it's tempting to do all of those things you can't do when you're holding him. But it's important to resist the urge and get some sleep instead. If you don't have your rest then you probably can't do your best as a parent, spouse or employee.