There are a lot of challenges that come with parenthood but sleep deprivation is by far one of the hardest. Sure, when you were pregnant you heard the horror stories and the jokes about how little sleep you were going to get once your newborn baby arrived. You probably even thought you was mentally prepared for the sleepless nights and you knew exactly what you were getting into. Then your little bundle of joy arrived and you quickly realized you could never have prepared for the pure exhaustion that comes from tending to your new arrival.
If you’re ready to kill just to get five minutes of blissful sleep, don’t despair! There are ways you can get through this, and below you’ll discover 11 essential sleep survival tips.
1. Caffeine Is Your Friend – But Only In The Morning!
Many new parents credit their sleep deprivation survival to caffeine. Whether it’s a strong shot (or five) 😉 of coffee in the morning or a can of coke – caffeine gives you a much needed boost when you need it the most. However, the key is to only drink caffeine in the morning. If you glug it down in the afternoon you’re going to have real trouble falling asleep at night, and let me tell you – not being able to sleep when you need to the most is unbelievably frustrating.
2. Eat Plenty Of Energy Rich Foods
While caffeine can be a god send, it’s not overly healthy and as mentioned above, it’s not ideal for the afternoons. So, to prevent all-day grogginess, ensuring you eat a good amount of energy rich foods is a good idea. Eggs, apples, oatmeal, salmon and pumpkin are all great for providing the body with a much needed boost.
3. Make Use Of The Swaddle Technique
One of the best times to get some much needed shut-eye is when your little one is asleep. This can prove difficult if they constantly wake up. Swaddling has been used for decades and it’s a great way to stop baby waking themselves up. It comforts them and prevents them from startling themselves awake.
Of course, if you do swaddle your baby to help them sleep, it’s very important that you lay them on their back, as swaddling combined with stomach sleeping can increase the risk of accidental suffocation as well as SIDS.
4. Feed Your Baby Before Bed
Right before you head to bed, give your baby a feed. This ensures they sleep longer, in turn letting you sleep longer too. Many new parents find to their frustration that just as they drift off, their baby wakes up ready to be fed. So, eliminate the problem by feeding first and you’ll ultimately get more sleep.
5. Don’t Allow Too Many Naps During The Day
This one’s probably going to be difficult! When you’re sleep deprived, any time your baby spends asleep is welcome. However, if you allow them to sleep for too long during the day, they’ll end up having trouble getting to sleep and more importantly, staying asleep, during the night. As difficult as it is, wake your baby up after two hours during the day. They may be a little cranky at first, but the extra sleep you both get at night will be more than worth it.
6. Always Sleep When Your Baby Sleeps
One of the key survival methods during this sleep deprived time is to sleep when your baby sleeps. An hour or two during the day can make all of the difference. Yes, you may want to catch up on the latest TV series, or make use of the time to clean up and have a shower. But getting enough sleep is vital to staying healthy and being the best parent you can be. So don’t feel guilty – sleep when your baby sleeps!
7. Accept Help
Don’t fall into the “super parent” trap. So many new parents think they have to go it alone and asking for help somehow proves they’re failing at parenthood. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Accept any help you are offered whether it’s from friends, family members or a babysitter! Any time somebody else can take over for an hour or two gives you the perfect chance to catch up on some sleep.
8. Ensure Your Baby Isn’t Over-Stimulated At Night
When it’s time for the night feed, try to ensure all activity is kept to a minimum. Don’t make too much noise and try not to move baby around too much. When they wake up during the night, they aren’t fully awake and after a good feed should go straight back to sleep. However, if you over-stimulate them they’re going to reach the fully awake stage pretty quickly and that will prove almost impossible to get them back to sleep.
9. Share The Night Shifts
If you’re in a position to do so, share the night shifts. So, one night you take over and then the next it’s your partners turn. You could even sleep in a different room when it’s not your turn so you aren’t woken when it’s your partners turn.
Of course, sharing night shifts isn’t possible if you’re a single parent. If you find you’re really struggling, consider asking a friend to stay over. Even just one night a week off will do you the world of good. You can prepare bottles of milk that your friend can warm up when needed. Of course, you’ll need a very patient and understanding friend to do this!
10. Have A Bedtime Routine
This is one of the best tried and tested methods to improve sleep. Establish a bedtime routine as early on as possible. This is something you’re going to need to stick to if you want it to work. A popular routine includes giving baby a bath, reading them a story, giving them a feed and then settling them down to bed.
You’re going to have nights when this routine seems to be failing, but persistence is key here. Don’t cave in every time your baby cries after they have been put down for bed. Instead, give them time to settle and you’ll largely see they do settle down eventually once they realize it’s time to sleep.
11. Consider Picking Up A Book
While there is never a complete solution that will work for every baby, there are fantastic resources out there for parents whose baby seemingly refuses to sleep. Picking up a book that specializes on this topic will be well worth the money spent.
The Sleepeasy Solution, The Happiest Baby Guide To Great Sleep, and The No-Cry Sleep Solution are some of the most popular books on helping your baby sleep soundly at night, and are recommended by parents all around the world.
Overall sleep deprivation is one of the most difficult things to handle when you’re a new parent. The days of sleeping in as late as you want are gone, and unfortunately, it’s something you can never fully prepare for. However, the tips above will help to save not just your much needed sleep, but your sanity too!