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Parents, Sleep and Newborns

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

Did you know on average, adults should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night? Unfortunately this is not true for many parents – especially new parents. After the baby is born, studies have shown that men lose an average of 13 minutes per night, while women, lose over an hour of sleep each night Parents sleep often does not return to pre-pregnancy levels until the oldest child is around six years old. Losing sleep can be for a number of reasons:

  • You may lay awake anticipating your baby’s cry.

  • Your sleep patterns have been disrupted.

  • Worried about any health issues.

  • Concerns about being a new parent

  • You may struggle to fall back to sleep after waking in the night after a feed.

  • You may struggle to get to sleep

As a parent your focus is of course on your child, but you do need to pay attention to your own sleep needs and wellbeing. Sleep helps you form memories, repairs cells and tissue, strengthens your immune, and prevents you from getting sick. Plus, good sleep gives you the patience and energy to enjoy your little one.

Sleep Deprivation

Between the night-time wakings and feeding and the stress of having a child, falling or staying asleep can be difficult for new parents. Sleep deprivation, or not getting sufficient sleep, often has unwanted affects in terms of mood, health, safety, and even lifespan in all of us. Here are a few consequences of sleep deprivation that are particularly important for new parents to be aware of:

  • Irritability: Under conditions of insufficient sleep, you may be more irritable, anxious, or likely to lash out at friends, co-workers or spouses and other loved ones.

  • Poor choices: Around food and alcohol

  • Anxiety and Depression: Without sufficient sleep, we are at greater risk for negative moods, anxiety and depression. If you experience symptoms of poor mental health, or postpartum depression consider speaking to your healthcare provider or seeking other help. Treatment for postpartum depression includes getting as much rest as you can, socializing when possible, and asking for caregiving assistance from partners, family, and friends. Your healthcare provider may also recommend medication, therapy, and support group attendance to help improve your symptoms.

  • Accidents & Injuries: Insufficient sleep, increases the risk of longer reaction times, which can increase risk of accidents, such as motor vehicle crashes. Try to avoid driving or operating other machinery when you are sleep deprived.

  • Positive parenting involves being responsive and warm toward your child. Preliminary research shows that caregivers who sleep less experience higher levels of stress. Higher levels of stress are associated with difficulty regulating emotions. This difficulty may help explain why caregivers who have less or fragmented sleep, or who take longer to fall asleep, show less positive parenting in the hour before their child’s bedtime than caregivers who get more sleep.t Having a good sleep routine and learning to manage your stress is key to positive parenting.

Prioritising your own sleep It helps you have the energy to care for your new child, so learning what works best for you and your child is essential. Infants have shorter sleep cycles than adults. They sleep in one to three hour bouts which means they, and therefore you, are awake several times during the night. The following suggestion and recommendations are especially important for new parents:

  • Nap when the baby naps. Experts recommend you sleep when the baby sleeps. This can be challenging with mounting household tasks, but Even power naps, or short naps that are 10 to 20 minutes long help you recharge. Research shows napping can also reduce your stress level information and will allow you to make time for things like cleaning, meal preparation, and other general tasks.

  • Setting Boundaries be comfortable saying no. There will likely be many friends, family members, and other loved ones who want to meet your baby. As you get used to being a parent, be comfortable saying “no” or asking to delay a visit until you and your baby have a bit more of a routine.

  • Create a good sleep environment: A good sleep environment for adults is cool, quiet, and dark. The same recommendations apply to your newborn’s bedroom. Make sure the temperature is neither too cold nor too hot (i.e., approximately 20° to 22°C), dark, and quiet in their nursery.

  • Have a bedtime routine - regular bedtime and routine for you and your baby will help you get to sleep more easily and you body knows bedtime is coming do the same things before bed everyday and aim to have the same bedtime and wake up time You can get my sleep tips booklets sent to you covering Sleep routines, Getting back to sleep and adjusting your sleep schedule Grab your Sleep Tips Booklet

  • A common mistake new parents make is to both be awoken by the baby at night. Instead, consider having one person be “on” and the other be “off,” sleeping with ear plugs or even in a separate bedroom so they can (hopefully) get a consolidated night of sleep.

  • Bedtime routines & rituals are important as well, so make sure there is a chance to bond as a family at the end of a long day. This may look like reading a story together, playing restful music lighting candles, or taking a warm bath with your baby once they are able to do so. These activities are relaxing and prepares the body for sleep.

  • Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask friends, neighbours, and family members for help when you are in need of some sleep or alone time. Be sure to communicate with your partner to create a functional and consistent schedule while the baby is awake, plus also dividing responsibilities where possible.

  • Self Care Making sure you have time to get outside, even for a quick stroll around the block, can have many positive effects on your mental health.

Don't Struggle Alone If you or your child are having sleep issues, or you are having difficulty implementing any of the suggestions above – please do reach out, don't struggle alone I have amazing strategies tools and techniques whatever your issue, I invite you to book a chat with me to see how I can help you.

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