People have a lot of misguided, and even unhealthy, ideas concerning sleep. They think that sleep is like a bank account; you can put in the money you need at any time. Unfortunately, the concept of “sleep debt” is actually terrible for your health.
Sleep deprivation and parenting often go hand-in-hand. Newborns and young children have irregular sleep schedules that can compromise an adult’s recommended eight hours. Poor sleep for new parents isn’t just bad for your health — it can affect your ability to raise your children.
Advice to New Parents: Make Use of Naps
Depending on who you ask, you will get wildly different opinions on naps. They work great for some people, but for others, they just make you groggy, and unable to feel tired at bedtime. Fortunately, the research leans in favor of nap-taking if done right.
Sometimes, it’s impossible to lock in a full night’s sleep. If that’s the case, then use supplementary naps. The key is not to nap for too long; 15 to 30 minutes is the sweet spot.
Limit the Things That Exacerbate Sleep Deprivation
There are a lot of things that, when used at the wrong times, will throw your sleep schedule into disarray. Caffeine, screen time, and alcohol are just a few. Follow the 10-3-2-1 sleep rule to ensure you’re ready for sleep when you get in bed.
Form a bedtime routine to improve your odds of a restful night. Read a book instead of staring at your phone. Listen to relaxing music, or whatever else helps you wind down.
Make sure your room is completely dark. Consider using ear plugs or an eye cover. Nothing—aside from a crying baby—should interrupt your sleep routine.
Balance Your Me Time
Sleep for parents gets more complicated when you factor in your lack of personal time. With all the diaper changes and bottle-feeding, it’s easy to set your own needs aside.
Unfortunately, there is no easy solution here. Good parents will sacrifice a lot for their children; that’s just the nature of the thing.
However, find ways to give yourself proper self-care and make use of the little moments. Use the minutes or hours while your baby is napping to do what makes you happy. Prepare these things in advance so that you can pick them up and drop them with ease—i.e., keep a book nearby.
Most importantly, don’t sacrifice your sleep just to get an hour of extra time. The consequences on your physical and mental health will not be worth it in the long run.
Sleep Better With Sleep Dynamics
With a newborn in the home, the most important advice for new parents is to focus on sleeping well. Take naps, limit caffeine intake close to bedtime, and put those screens away before lights out. Find out how to balance your me time–but don’t give up sleep for it!
Sleep Dynamics helps people from all walks of life to get the best sleep they can. Whether you are suffering from insomnia, or trying to improve your sleep quality, we can help. Contact us so we can better understand your sleep problems.