by Sarah on 27. June 2012 in
New parents hardly need an expert to them that they need more sleep. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is just something that comes with the territory when raising infants… especially in the very beginning. The real cure for lack of sleep is obviously to just get more ZZZ’s….but, since that’s usually an unlikely solution…here are a few tips we’ve used to help minimize the effects of needing more sleep!
:: EAT HEALTHY
One common mistake that we make when we are tired is to stop taking care of our bodies. We can totally relate to not wanting to cook up something gourmet when tired, and we can also relate to those times when we end up reaching for a stale brownie as breakfast! An obviously better choice is to maintain good eating habits. Avoiding processed foods and drinking a lot of water throughout the day will help keep your energy up. Dehydration can make you more tired than anything…so if nothing else…keep that water bottle handy! Also, eating fruits/veggies, or some light bread/pasta instead of pizza, burgers, and other heavy food choices can help you to avoid that post-meal rut.
:: KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Sleep deprivation tends to increase irritability, alter decision making, and make you a bit irrational at times. If you’re lacking in sleep, it’s a good idea to simplify your daily routine. Try to avoid situations that will increase your stress level or test your patience. If you can find a way to scale back the agenda, do it. When it comes to tasks around the house, try to tackle 1-2 small tasks a day…and gradually add back to that list as your sleep routine becomes more regular again.
:: ASK FOR HELP
Involving your partner is essential to figuring out how to best manage the interruption in your nightly rest. Whether you bottle or breast feed, your partner can help to take shifts throughout the night. Planning out the night before it begins can help you to at least sleep in blocks of time at once. Let your partner change the baby and soothe them back to sleep while you capitalize on much needed rest. Trading off blocks of time throughout the night will benefit you both…and will make for TWO happier parents! In addition, don’t be afraid to ask for help throughout the day. We’ve found that family, friends, and neighbors love to be able to spare you off for an hour or two while you catch up. Chances are, if they are parents…they will totally understand what you’re going through, and they will be more than willing to help the cause!
:: CONVINCE YOURSELF YOU’RE NOT THAT TIRED
It may sound silly, but there are things you can do to trick your brain into thinking you’re more alert than your sleep would indicate. Showering first thing is practically worth two hours of sleep! Staying in your pajamas all day only makes you more tired, and we’ve found that getting up and getting ready for the day tends to at least get you through the morning and into the afternoon!
:: SCHEDULE A NAP
It can be a hard to convince yourself of this when parenting infants, but sleep is more important than a clean home. Let some of your chores go, invest in yourself, and try and squeeze in a short afteroon nap. Sleep is so important to your overall well-being. It keeps your immune system strong, your mind clear, and makes your chances of being a good parent much more likely. Even just a 15-20 minute nap can boost your energy and alertness, so when baby goes down…take the first block of his/her nap and treat yourself to one, too.
Remember, this is only a phase…and you will eventually get sleep again! As baby transitions out of the newborn stage…there are so many great resources out there to help you get on a consistent sleep routine. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, MD is one of our favorites. His philosophy is that the most important thing to have is a well-rested family—and we couldn’t agree more!
You can read more about Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child here.