Tips for Sleep Deprived Parents on How to Get Better Quality Sleep
In partnership with Owlet
Whilst your newborns sleep patterns may mean it’s impossible to get sleep overnight, new parents can take steps to get better quality sleep, so that they are better able to cope with the demands of caring for their new baby.
Getting sufficient sleep is particularly important for maintaining your mental health, and new parents can often find themselves caught in a vicious cycle. Poor sleep can increase the risk of developing postpartum depression, and women who have postpartum depression are more likely to have trouble sleeping. But it is important to note that mums aren’t solely at risk. Research shows that around 8% of new dads experience depression too.
So, how can new parents maximise the positive effects of the diminished sleep that they do get?
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
You’ve probably heard it all before, but there really is something to be said for sticking to a regular sleep schedule, and avoiding caffeine, large meals and alcohol, especially late in the day. Instead of using the time in the evening when you put your baby down to bed to catch up on your favourite TV shows, consider going to bed earlier so that you can get a larger uninterrupted block of sleep in before your baby wakes in the night.
Leslie Swanson Ph.D., a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, advises new parents to try to get what she calls “anchor” sleep – a four-to-six-hour block of uninterrupted rest, as interrupted sleep can have a greater, negative impact on how parents feel than lack of sleep. For example, if your baby usually wakes at around 1:00am, going to bed at 9:00 pm yourself, will mean you get a much healthier 4-hour block of sleep then if you went to bed later.
Sleep When Your Baby Sleeps
It’s such simple and effective advice, but the truth is many mums feel the pressure to maintain the home and stay on top of household chores. Let’s put it this way, newborns take frequent naps which can last anywhere from two to four hours, often for a total of 16 to 18 hours of sleep each day. Taking a short nap during the day and ignoring the dishes in the sink, is nothing to feel guilty about. Think of it as taking care of yourself so that you are better able to take care of your baby! Everything else can wait, except your baby.
Don’t Worry That You Won’t Hear Your Baby
It’s common for new mums to worry that if they sleep too deeply, they won’t hear their baby cry. As a result, they sleep with one eye open so to speak, and don’t get the deep, restorative sleep that their body and mind dearly needs.
If you are worried that you won’t hear your baby, investing in a baby monitor can help give you the peace of mind that you need.
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For example, the award-winning Owlet Smart Sock 3 allows parents to track their baby’s oxygen levels and heart rate while they sleep. If the baby’s readings leave preset “safe” zones, parents receive a notification that lets them know that their baby really needs them. This can give parents the confidence and peace of mind to sleep more soundly knowing that Owlet can help keep their baby safe.
Limit Your Use of Electronic Devices Before Bed
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine electronics such as televisions, computers, cell phones and tablets emit blue light that can make it more difficult to fall asleep. The blue light inhibits your body’s ability to prepare for sleep because it blocks the production of a hormone called melatonin that makes you sleepy. This will make you feel less drowsy and means it’ll take longer to fall asleep.
Seek Medical Help if You are Having Trouble Sleeping
Insomnia can increase the risk of developing postpartum depression and/or anxiety and can also be a symptom of it. New parents who are experiencing long-lasting fatigue or think they may be suffering from a sleep disorder or postpartum depression, are advised to seek medical advice from their GP or other medical professional.