How to Cope with Sleep Deprivation
Anyone who has a baby knows that sleep quickly becomes an essential but rare commodity.
The usual sleeping tips like “have a hot shower, hot drink and exercise regularly” mean nothing when you have a baby. The trouble with parents is not that they CAN’T sleep, but rather that their little darlings have other plans! So, if we can’t get our beauty sleep, how do we cope?
Here are my top ten tips for resting (not sleeping – forget about that!)
1. Lie down or do something restful whenever you can. I’m not talking about sleeping. If you have a baby who sleeps a lot and you can sleep during the day, lucky you! But if, like many mums, you have a baby who sleeps 40 minutes at a time, don’t even bother trying to sleep! But even just lying back and putting your feet up with a book (or whatever else relaxes you) is good for your body. Stop equating rest with sleeping.
2. Do restful things while spending time with bub. Lie on your bed and sing to her. Read her a story in the quiet of her room. Go outside and lie together on a picnic blanket and talk about what you see.
3. Rest while bottle or breastfeeding. Put on a movie, or get a book. Do something you enjoy. Reframe feeding time as a time for you. A time you can look forward to.
4. If you are breastfeeding, learn to feed your baby while lying down. That way you can nap too. Please please please do make sure you are aware of SIDS recommendations though.
5. Simplify your life. Trying to stay on top of laundry, dishes, mopping, sweeping, dinner AND looking after your new baby can be very overwhelming. Pick a few tasks that are important to you and let go of the rest.
6. Accept offers of help. You don’t have to do everything. Saying yes to offers of help does not mean you are not coping. It means you value yourself enough to take some time out. Isn’t that the example you want to set for your children?
7. Take a break from your baby. Go out on your own but also with your partner. Don’t underestimate how relaxing even half an hour at your favorite coffee shop can be.
8. Look after yourself. Soak your feet for 10 minutes in a foot spa. And if you don’t have one, use a bucket! Lather your body with some moisturizer. Burn some essential oils. All these little actions will help you relax and feel better about yourself. And you can even do them while your baby is awake. Maybe massage him with some baby moisturiser while you are at it.
9. Avoid any stimulants like coffee, coke or energy drinks, which will stimulate you and stop you from relaxing and sleeping when your baby does give you a break. If you have to have stimulants, limit its use.
10. Change your attitude to your lack of sleep. Telling yourself over and over again that you NEED to sleep will not make you feel any better. Try telling yourself that even though you could really do with some sleep, you WILL cope.
As a final note, remember that this too shall pass. It may take a few years but hey, who has ever heard of an 18 year old not sleeping through the night? 😉