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How to Get Enough Sleep with a Young Baby

If pregnancy and birth weren’t exhausting enough, welcome to life at home with your little bundle of joy. Although you may dearly love your newborn and understand that parenthood is a 24 hour job, too many sleepless nights can take their toll.

When you’re sleep deprived it could become tricky to look after yourself. There are also bound to be changes in how your care for the rest of your family and even your home. Everyday tasks are likely to become more difficult and even activities like driving can become dangerous.

So, is there a way to turn your sleep deprivation around? You might be surprised to hear that parenthood and sleep deprivation don’t have to be a package deal. Try these simple tips for improving your own sleep when you have a young baby.

Four simple ways to help improve your sleep

Even if you do find a few minutes or hours to lie down, getting restorative sleep may still be tricky. While there isn’t a guaranteed method to fall asleep sleep, here are four ways to help you nod off:

  1. Place a bassinet next to your bed. Save yourself getting out of bed and waking up too much during night feeds and you could slip back into restful sleep much more easily.
  2. Power nap when your baby is asleep. Silence your phone, turn off the TV and computer and do your best to ignore any other demands about twenty minutes. Getting a short burst of refreshing sleep in a cool dark place may work wonders for your energy levels.
  3. Try to squeeze in some exercise. Experiment with taking a brisk walk while your little one sleeps in the pram once a day. Regular exercise during the day may help promote deeper sleep.
  4. Express some breast milk. If you’re breastfeeding, your partner or other family member can help with a feed or two while you get some uninterrupted sleep. But it’s important to make sure breastfeeding is well established before introducing your baby to a bottle.

Five important things to avoid for better sleep

When it’s time to go to bed at night, give yourself the best chance of unwinding properly. Avoid these five counteractive activities before getting into bed to get the most out of your precious sleep:

  1. Eating large or rich meals
  2. Taking on stressful tasks
  3. Exercising (although light stretching or yoga may be very beneficial)
  4. Drinking caffeine such as tea, coffee or eating chocolate.
  5. Watching TV or using your phone, tablet or computer

If none of the above help, talk with your healthcare professional. It’s important to eliminate any underlying conditions that might be stopping you from getting the rest you need. Looking after yourself and getting enough sleep is crucial for helping you take care of your little one.

How to deal with a lack of sleep

While you’re experimenting with different ways to improve your sleep, it’s likely you’ll have days where your tiredness May feel almost overwhelming.

Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge tiredness may affect the way you function. You may not be as physically capable of getting jobs done as quickly or even as well as you’re used to. You might become frustrated more easily and find it harder to concentrate.
When you’re feeling tired, try these quick and easy tips to help you keep going:

  1. Make a short list and prioritise. Focus on one task at a time and get your most important tasks out of the way first. This could help your day become easier.
  2. Exercise when you can. Even a few quick sit ups or a few laps around the garden in the fresh air could give you a much needed energy boost.
  3. Eat nutritious meals. Snacks and meals packed with green veggies, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and legumes will help fuel your body through those tired days. Coffee and sugary treats might give you an instant boost, but you’re likely to feel even more tired when the initial energy peak wears off.
  4. Reconsider driving. Getting fresh air and taking breaks to stretch and walk around when you’re tired while driving are temporary measures only. If possible, take a short power nap or reschedule your trip until you feel more rested and it’s safe to drive. Or better still, ask your partner or family member to be the driver if you’re really fatigued.