If you’re scrolling your phone in the darkness of your infant’s nursery and your eyelids are heavy just reading this, chances are you’re a sleep-deprived new mom. Trust me: I understand that struggle firsthand. As a mom of three and a pediatric sleep specialist, I’ve been in your shoes personally and assisted hundreds of other sleep-deprived families. All of this has taught me the necessity of good sleep over the years, and while most of my clients are interested in sleep coaching for their little ones, moms also benefit from this support.

New motherhood asks so much of us, including near-24/7 alertness—baby needs changing, baby needs feeding, baby needs bathing, baby needs rocking, baby needs sleep trainingBut when you’re a caregiver, your needs are equally important, because you can’t be at your best without taking care of yourself too. Not much gets done when you’re running on empty!

Dealing with sleep deprivation as a new mom basically feels like you’re stuck in a black hole of never-ending exhaustion. Luckily, there are ways to recover those ZZZs and revitalize your own routine for the better. You deserve to wake up feeling like you are able to manage life with a newborn.  Mamas, let’s discuss some tips for how to improve your sleep during these exhilarating first few months of parenthood.

Tip #1: Aim for Dedicated 4-Hour Stretches of Rest

Anyone without a newborn baby would balk at a mere four hours of sleep, whereas new moms know the truth: this would feel heavenly. Four hours of uninterrupted sleep equates to about two full REM cycles, which serves as an adequate period of rest even though you’ll be riding the unavoidable wave of fragmented sleep as a new parent for several months—at least until your baby begins to follow more structured sleep patterns. Reaching that four-hour mark is critical to securing the energy boost you depend on in that time; anything less results in groggy midnight wakeups and feeling terrible each morning.

REM sleep is considered restorative and preparatory. It’s easier to wake from than deeper sleep without compromising its ability to recharge your batteries, so it’s ideal for moms and dads who have a newborn. At this age, your baby will wake frequently throughout the night to be fed and changed, no matter what. They’ll have awake windows as well as sleep windows that grow increasingly more regular and predictable, enabling you to schedule your snoozes around theirs. Organized spans of shorter sleep such as this become a necessary adjustment in order to achieve any semblance of quality rest for parents and babies alike. 

Tip #2: Split the Nighttime Labor with Your Spouse 

Babies often develop a natural parental preference regardless of how evenly you attempt to divide the responsibility between both parents. Don’t let this inevitability convince you to give up on trying to strike that balance! Involving a partner can significantly alleviate mom’s burden and lack of rest when handling overnight duties with her newborn. This might seem obvious, or maybe it’s contrary to the plan you’ve been implementing thus far, but sharing the wake-up calls with your spouse is the smartest approach in the long run. Even if your partner has to be up early for work, having him take the 8pm-midnight shift can help mom tremendously! Remember men can generally get by on less sleep than women. Especially when that woman has just had a baby! Mom also needs to make sure she is ready to go to bed herself at 8pm! While I know this feels early, I promise you will feel SOOO much better in the morning if you do this! 

Feed baby and/or pump ahead of time so your breasts are “empty” when you go to bed. Your partner/husband will now have a bottle that is quickly accessible. If you can sleep in a space where you can’t hear your baby, that is ideal. Remember to use an eye mask and ear plugs as that will help you go to sleep faster and get more restful sleep. Your partner’s job at this point is to take care of the baby so you can get some good quality rest. I would also suggest he feed the baby at 11pm so he can get baby back down before he is “off duty”. This can allow mom to actually get even more than 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I promise you will feel like a new woman in the morning! 

It’s also just plain good for your marriage. Parenting in the first few months is HARD! Having a spouse to help carry the load helps build a stronger connection and helps keep resentment from seeping in. For single moms, it’s helpful to have one or two close friends or family members to call upon for daytime breaks when the nighttime work gets to be too draining. You’re going it on your own and that’s tough to maintain, so carve out intentional chunks of rest when you can spare them and rely on your tribe to lighten the load. 

Tip #3: Practice Healthy Sleep Hygiene

This is a big one. Various common habits detract from the healthy sleep we all need to function properly. Browsing your phone in bed, for instance, has a negative impact on how well you’ll sleep that night. Also, the aforementioned nursery scrolling isn’t doing you any favors if you’re fighting sleep deprivation as a new mom! It’s tempting to catch up on your social media feed or connect online with loved ones in those spare moments, but if you want truly advantageous sleep, avoid the screens and instead embrace a relaxing ritual for yourself.

Such a ritual could include dimming the lights early, investing in comfy accessories, lighting a candle, here’s one of my favorite non toxic candles. The Frankincense/Patchouli is my favorite! I light mine each night before I hop in a hot shower. Don’t underestimate taking a hot bath or shower before bed. It’s deeply relaxing!! Limiting your caffeine intake, listening to nature sounds, or classical piano music and practicing self-care, like using a neck massager or throwing on a sheet mask (and hopefully your newborn won’t suddenly wake right as you’re getting cozy!). It’s the little things that ease us into a calm state for more blissful sleep. Meditation, prayer or breathwork can also work wonders for helping you to wind down. 

Finally, be sure you’re at least trying to rest when the baby sleeps throughout the day. Delegate household duties to someone else or hire some extra help if you can afford it. To prevent your own false starts as you fall asleep, it’s so important to consider your sleep hygiene in general and the effect your pre-sleep routine has on your rest overall.

Tip #4: Get Plenty of Sunlight and Move Your Body

Lastly, your body has been through the ringer in the past year, from pregnancy to childbirth and now, new parenthood. Your unique circadian rhythm is likely very unstable as you’ve adapted to these ups and downs while simultaneously caring for a baby.

A great reset is natural sunlight exposure. By opening those curtains early each morning, or even better, getting outdoors, you’re signaling to your brain that it’s time to wake up. If there’s a half-hour window before your baby rises, utilize the opportunity to squeeze in some movement too, since this helps wake you and works wonders to realign your circadian rhythms. The more active you are during the day, the better you’ll sleep at night. But remember those first few weeks you need more rest than movement so don’t overdo it! You will pay for it later. 

Moms dealing with particularly fussy newborns may be rolling their eyes and thinking, “Sunshine and movement? That’s going to fix my sleep deprivation?” Of course, it’s not a cure-all, but making a point to bask in the sunlight or stretch your limbs to start the day really can stabilize your circadian rhythm, setting you up for a successful evening of rest—once the baby’s finally asleep, that is. It’s just one step in the sleep hygiene process as a new parent.

A Sleep Consultant Reverses the Deprivation

Though it’s easier said than done, managing sleep deprivation as a new mom is possible with the proper support. You can apply these techniques to your current lifestyle to see what works, but if you’re looking for services beyond that, Your Sleeping Baby is here to provide the expertise that’ll take your entire family from sleep-deprived to energized. Laying a strong sleep foundation when your baby is young is a game changer and an investment that you will never regret! Listen to what these families had to say about their experience with sleep coaching and how it changed their lives. 

I have fourteen years of experience working directly with families and addressing their pediatric sleep concerns. Whatever your situation, you can enjoy restful sleep as a family. Yes, even with a newborn! Reach out for a consultation today. 

10 Simple Ways to Get Your Baby to Sleep Better Tonight

These tips are simple, easy to implement, and created to help your baby slowly step into a healthy, secure relationship with sleep!

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