There is no question about it, a newborn robs you of sleep. Even if you’re lucky and have a baby that sleeps through, teething, illness and terrors can disrupt your precious sleep for years to come. This is why your sleep not just your baby’s need special attention, too.
Sleep deprivation can be physically and emotionally draining, but the key is to accept it won’t last forever and to concentrate on ensuring the sleep you get is restorative. Here is how:
1. Move with the morning
After being up half the night soothing your baby, watching daybreak is much more appealing than going outside, but enjoying the first light will pay dividends. Exposure to early morning light has been proven to relieve stress and boost your mood, both key in creating a healthy sleep pattern. It’s also known to reinforce your sleep-wake cycle; helping to ensure that the sleep you get at night is at its most recuperating.
2. Turn to healthier kicks
Caffeine and sugary foods might give you a short-term lift, but they increase insulin production, causing blood sugar highs and lows that leave you more tired and can interfere with your night-time sleep. Avoid drinking more than three cups of coffee a day and try switching one for a cup of peppermint tea.
According to research, just the smell of peppermint tea is enough to lower fatigue and frustration. As for your diet, keep healthy, easy-to-grab foods at hand.
3. Get strategic
Parenting is a joint effort hence asking your partner for more help doesn’t make you less of a great mother. You can’t care for others if you don’t take proper care of yourself, and that includes getting enough sleep. So agree on a sleep plan with your partner. Rather than spending night after night bickering about whose turn it is to get up, figure out a system that works for you both.
4. Makeover your midnight
Managed to get your baby back to the land of nod, but can’t get there yourself? When a crying baby wakes you up at night, your body goes into overdrive and responds to these demands by producing more adrenaline.
Adrenaline allows you to override exhaustion but only in the short term and can prevent you from falling back to sleep quickly. So avoid turning on any lights, as night-time exposure to light tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime, which delays your ability to get back to sleep.
5. Stretch out
Despite being exhausted at the end of the day, do you struggle to fall asleep? Your mind is alert from running around after your baby all day. That’s why it’s vital to wind down before you get to bed. Practising gentle yoga stretches before bed is great for tired joints and muscles, ensuring your body is relaxed and ready for sleep.
6. Take a nap gap
Sleeping when your baby sleeps is something mums are always told to do, as it leaves you better-equipped to get through the day, but it’s hard as it’s the only ‘me-time’ you often get but it’s worth grabbing some shut-eye if you can. A 26-minute snooze is enough to boost alertness by a whooping 54 per cent. Lie down for half an hour around the lunchtime nap.
7. Tackle ‘mumsomnia’
Many new mums spend the night staring at the ceiling worrying. Relentless pressure to meet new challenges can cause unnecessary anxiety and keep you awake at night. Talk to your friends, partner or doctor to ease your concerns.
If you’re worrying so much you feel as if you’re unable to cope, see your doctor, as this could be a symptom of postnatal depression. It’s also vital to start saying ‘no’ more often. When faced with something new, like a long drive to visit family, ask yourself, “Can I do this?” and “Do I even want to?” If the answer isn’t yes, don’t do it.
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