Becoming a parent ushers you into a new and exciting phase of life. You get to watch your little one develop and grow every day, but you also have to deal with the difficulties of keeping him or her fed, stimulated, and asleep. Dr. Rebecca Robbins, an instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said, “Navigating your and your newborn’s sleep are among the hardest obstacles during the early weeks of a baby’s existence.” “Unfortunately, this can be challenging, especially because the caregiver is often running on very little sleep because their nighttimes are often punctuated by feedings, adding stress and aggravation. The good news is that there are tactics and advice backed by scientific research that can help you raise a healthy, happy baby from the moment they are born and throughout their development.
Most experts agree that individuals need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Most new parents experience sleeplessness after the birth of a child for a variety of reasons. You may find it difficult to settle back to sleep after a nocturnal feeding, or you may lie up waiting for your baby to cry. Men lose an average of 13 minutes of sleep per night after the baby is born, while women lose more than an hour. Many parents report that they do not get as much sleep as they did before they had children until their oldest child is six years old.
Insomnia, drowsiness throughout the day, anxiety, sadness, poor quality sleep, and exhaustion are all common problems for new mothers. One in eight new mothers experience postpartum depression, and sleep deprivation can exacerbate its symptoms.
When you’re a new parent, you have a lot of decisions to make and obstacles to overcome when it comes to getting enough sleep. Although your child’s health and happiness is obviously your top priority, new parents should not neglect their own sleep demands. x Reliable Reference Medicine and Biology Bibliography, National Library of Medicine By making biomedical and genetic data more widely available, the National Center for Biotechnology Information helps improve human health. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Sleep aids learning and memory, heals bodily tissues, and keeps you healthy. Sleeping well also provides you with the stamina to take pleasure in the next day with your kid.
Breastfeeding and Sleep
Breastfeeding might affect the sleep schedule and wake times of both parents. Interestingly, research shows that compared to formula-fed newborns, breastfed infants wake up more frequently during the night. Additionally, breastfed infants are less likely to have difficulty waking up in the morning. Consequently, breastfeeding mothers and fathers spend more time up at night.
It’s extremely common for new parents to nod off during nighttime feedings. If you are concerned about nodding off while breastfeeding, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises using an adult bed. Parents should nurse in a safe environment free of loose clothing, loose bedding, and other potential dangers, according to the AAP. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that if you do fall asleep while breastfeeding, you put the baby back in their crib as soon as you wake up.
New parents often have trouble sleeping or staying asleep due to the stress of caring for an infant, as well as the frequent wakings and feedings that occur throughout the night. Not getting enough sleep negatively affects our mental and physical well-being, as well as our ability to avoid accidents and live longer. It is especially crucial for new parents to be aware of the following effects of sleep deprivation:
- A lack of sleep can make you irritated, anxious, and more prone to lash out at people you care about (such as friends, coworkers, spouses, and family).
- Anxiety and depression: When we don’t get enough shut-eye, we’re more likely to feel down and depressed. Talking to a doctor is a good idea if you’re feeling down about your mental health.
- Injuries and mishaps: Lack of sleep can slow our reflexes, making us more likely to be involved in a collision while driving or in another hazardous situation. Try to avoid driving or using other machinery while you are sleep deprived.
New parents may experience a variety of side effects due to sleep deprivation.
Sleep Deprivation and Postpartum Depression
Within the first three months after giving birth, moderate to severe depression is considered postpartum depression. From 8-13% of first-time mothers suffer from this condition. New mothers who don’t get enough sleep tend to be more anxious.
Get in touch with your doctor if you’re feeling the effects of postpartum depression. Rest, socializing, and accepting help from partners, family, and friends are all recommended as treatments for postpartum depression. Your doctor might also suggest trying different medications, engaging in therapy, or joining a support group to help you feel better.
Sleep Deprivation and Parenting
Studies have shown that sleep deprivation might have a negative effect on parents’ ability to provide their children with a stable home life. Loving and receptive behavior toward one’s child is a hallmark of positive parenting. A lack of sleep causes greater stress for caretakers, according to preliminary studies. Emotional dysregulation is correlated with increased stress levels. This challenge may explain why parents who get less sleep, or whose sleep is fragmented, or who take longer to fall asleep, are less likely to engage in positive parenting practices in the hour before their child goes to bed.
Tips for Quality Rest
A new parent’s sleep may be disrupted by the demands of feeding, diapering, and walking a cranky infant about the house. Johns Hopkins sleep specialist Grace W. Pien, M.D., M.S.C.E. acknowledges that prioritizing sleep can be difficult when caring for a baby.
She tells you that if you sleep well, you’ll be better prepared to handle your new role as a parent. As a result, Pien says, “You’ll be more patient and more likely to feel good about parenting.” Here are some ways to get some shut-eye.
Sleep While the Baby Sleeps
Babies typically sleep for 16–18 hours a day, broken up into several 2- to 4-hour naps. If a new parent solely sleeps throughout the night, they will likely suffer from acute sleep deprivation. According to Pien, “sleeping while the baby naps can be tough at times due to other kids in the house or our personal body clocks,” but it’s still a good idea to try and get some rest.
Skip Household Chores
Sleep instead of cleaning the house or unloading the dishes. When asked about the disarray, Pien says, “Friends and family are going to understand why the house is a mess.” In any case, they came to view the baby. Do the dishes after breakfast instead of leaving them in the sink overnight.
Share Nighttime Baby Duties
The overnight care of your kid might be split between you and your partner. Breastfeeding mothers can receive some much-needed rest at night because their partners can feed the baby with a bottle of breast milk.
Place the Crib Near Your Bed
Having the baby’s crib or bassinet right next to your bed makes it much simpler to get up and care for the infant before returning to bed. Although it may be tempting to sleep with your baby in bed, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against this due to the increased risk of suffocation.
Ask Friends and Family for Help
If you need someone to help you with something, whether it’s picking up groceries, sweeping the floor, or holding the baby while you take a sleep, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Nighttime diaper changes and feedings are tasks that may be manageable with the support of friends and family.
Take Advantage of Parental Leave
Parental leave regulations differ per company, but sometimes both parents can take time off at the same time, making it easier to share childcare duties and giving everyone a better night’s rest. To help ease the transition back to work, “Mom might take time off from work shortly after the baby is delivered,” adds Pien, “and her spouse can take leave several weeks later.”
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Whether or whether you have a newborn at home, practicing healthy sleep habits will help you get more shut-eye. Some methods are:
- If you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep, it’s best to stay away from coffee.
- Disconnecting from technology at bedtime: To paraphrase Pien: “You may want to post the latest images of your newborn on social media, but using mobile phones, tablets, and laptops at night might interfere with overall sleep duration,” adding that the light from electronic devices can disrupt your body clock.
- Maintaining a consistent bedtime routine: Even though it may be tough, try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. “Just remember that with a baby, you need to be flexible and accept overnight awakenings.”
Help the Baby Sleep
Starting around the third month, many infants begin sleeping for longer periods of time each night, anywhere from four to six hours. Approximately 66 percent of infants achieve near-total nighttime slumber by the age of 6 months. It’s about the 12- to 13-pound mark that smaller-than-average newborns begin sleeping for longer periods.
She recommends putting newborns down for the night when they are sleepy to encourage regular sleep patterns. Although it’s up to you, you might want to avoid making a pattern of rocking the baby to sleep in your arms right before night. She explains that babies will need to learn to self-soothe to sleep at some point.
She also suggests teaching children to calm themselves. You shouldn’t give in to your child’s every cry for comfort. Creating healthy sleep habits in infants by letting them learn to soothe themselves to sleep on their own is beneficial for everyone involved.