Quality sleep is crucial to functioning and positive interactions; research directly correlates adequate sleep and mood and mental health. For new parents, the ability to achieve sufficient sleep is challenging. Adding a newborn infant into an established routine often leads to chaos, exhaustion, and sleep deprivation — all of no intentional fault of the child.1
Sleep Deprivation & Parenting
A baby has no concept of day or night, nor does it understand eating schedules. Additionally, outside of the womb, a baby experiences independence and loneliness for the first time, primarily at night; to cope with these new experiences, a baby will use the only tool it has: its voice.
Unfortunately, parents must find ways to cope with the crying at all hours. Many parents manage by creating sleep schedules and shifts. However, for single-parent households, sharing shifts is impossible.
Parents need to learn how to cope with the sleep disruption naturally through healthy practices and adopting new patterns. Without adapting, sleep deprivation will occur, resulting in depression and other mental and physical health concerns.
Breastfeeding & Sleep
Many new moms choose to breastfeed over bottle feeding. The choice equates to an obligation of nursing every two to three hours or eight to 12 times per day. While the schedule might not seem too bad at first, it immediately begins cutting into new mothers' REM sleep, which is a necessary deep sleep cycle that typically occurs after 90 minutes of sleep.
While breastfeeding is natural and healthy, you do not have to feed from the breast. You can pump, allowing your partner to feed and you to sleep. Make sure you get enough shut-eye so you can be the best mom you can be.
Tips for Staying Awake Naturally
While some parents will turn to caffeine and other supplements to increase their energy and stay alert, it is unnecessary. There are several ways to stay awake naturally that are better for you. If you need help staying awake for your baby, try any of these five activities and practices:2
- Diet: If you want a natural way to increase your energy, start by focusing on your diet. Make sure you are drinking enough water, and try to reduce sugar intake. High-sugar foods can cause a blood sugar spike that can leave you feeling exhausted. Additionally, try consuming more energy-boosting foods, like edamame.
- Exercise: While it can seem counterintuitive, exercise does increase your energy. Every time you exercise, your body experiences an endorphin boost that can make you feel supercharged to face the day. If you find that your typical routine is a bit boring, try something new, like hip-hop dance classes or cycling.
- Go Outside: The sun is a natural way of getting a vitamin D energy boost. By spending at least 15 to 30 minutes outside every day, you can help curb those feelings of restlessness. However, whenever spending time outdoors, be sure to use SPF sun protection.
- Meditate: Many new parents experience stress and anxiety, which can lead to restless nights. If you are feeling more stressed than usual, try meditating. You want to find a nice quiet place and sit for five to 15 minutes practicing measured breathing. Taking a few minutes out of your day to focus on the now and set any other worries aside can work wonders for the mind.
- Turn Off Devices: Everyone understands the importance of a cell phone, tablet, or computer, but these devices should not control your life — devices set aside for a little while every day can help with sleep and mood.
While ensuring you are well-rested and healthy is vital to your child's health and wellbeing, sometimes parents need a little help.