What About MY Sleep?!

By Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH December 26, 2014
Congratulations! You and your new baby are home from the hospital and things are settling into a nice routine. You were warned that your little one might be up throughout the night, but you had no idea how exhausting being a new parent actually would be! Taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of your little one . . . although, somehow, YOUR sleep seems to have taken a backseat to everything else you need to do. Here are some tricks of the trade to help you, as a new parent, get the sleep you need.
  1. Make YOUR sleep a priority and not just the sleep of your new infant. Don’t feel guilty when you choose pizza delivery instead of making dinner for the family or when you leave those dishes until the morning. Remind yourself that sleep is always more important than a clean house!
  2. Be sure your sleep environment is as sleep-conducive as your baby’s! Keep your room cool and cave-like dark. If you don’t have black out shades in your room, consider using an eye mask.
  3. Sleep when your baby is sleeping. This is probably the hardest advice to take. There are so many things to be done when you finally have some peace and quiet. Knowing that you may be up throughout the night, it is a good idea to catch some shut-eye when your little one is napping. If you can’t fall asleep, do something else relaxing like reading a book or taking a bath.
  4. Take turns! There are lots of creative ways to let your partner help with the night wakings. You can take one night on and one night off, take turns sleeping in on the weekends, or each take a shift (such as 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. and 2 a.m. – 6 a.m.).
  5. Accept help and ask for it when you need it. Think twice before adding on extra responsibilities the first few months of your baby’s life. Schedule your visitors at times when the baby is awake so the visits don’t interfere with your chance to get some rest. Ask your visitors to watch the baby while you take some time to yourself, whether that is a nap or taking a shower.
  6. Turn off all screens including televisions, computers, iPads, and phones at least an hour before you hit the sack. The light from the screens can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
  7. Don’t forget about your own self-care! Eating healthy, drinking plenty of fluids, exercising, and avoiding caffeine before bed will help you sleep better, too!
  8. Don’t stress if you’re not falling asleep in a reasonable amount of time  Get up and do something out of the bedroom (other than television or the computer) and then return to bed when you are more tired.
  9. If you are sleeping with your child in the same bed, be sure you are following all safe co-sleeping recommendations starting on day one.
  10. Don’t ignore the signs of post-partum depression (PPD). If you feel you may be suffering from PPD, seek out help. You are not alone and speaking with a trained professional can make a world of difference.
A new baby can be overwhelming, to say the least! Getting enough sleep will allow you to be the best person, partner, and parent so that you can best take care of your little one.

Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH, founder of SleepyHead Solutions, is a Family Sleep Institute-certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. She offers many services including phone, email, Skype/FaceTime, and in-person consultations to solve your child’s sleep challenges. Feel free to email her with any questions. You can find out more information at her website and on her Facebook page.