My alarm clock went off at 9:16p, 11:24p, 1a, 2:13a, 3a, 4:15a, and again at 6a. He is about two feet tall and he loves to sleep next to Mama. This has happened every day for two years. Sometimes we stay up for hours during the night watching shows, reading books, eating snacks and waiting for sleep.
Does this sound familiar?
Maybe you are up feeding a newborn multiple times a night, changing wet sheets in the wee hours of the morning, or comforting a little one who woke up from a bad dream.
No matter the reason, sleep deprivation is a real problem for parents.
Moms usually suffer the most.
The worst part about it? We still have to keep everyone else’s lives moving when we can barely remember our second child’s middle name or what time that Zoom call was scheduled with our boss today.
Did you know that the average new parent loses 108 minutes of sleep per night for the first year? Moms losing about 13% more sleep than new Dads.
According to a survey by Owlet baby care, less than half of the parents of children aged zero-six months slept 8 hours a night, and about 43% of those parents weren’t even seeing one to three hours of consecutive sleep at a time. This can be a huge hurdle as a new parent. Sure, you expect to wake up in those early months, but sleeping less than three hours per night will make anyone crazy.
I know it can seem never ending. There were days when I would fall asleep making the coffee that I so desperately needed to stay awake and care for my kids. Days when I nodded off reading them books or playing games, and days when I forgot literally everything that I was supposed to do because my brain did not have the capacity for rationale thought.
Sleep deprived parents are not thriving parents, and you want to be the best for your little one and so you can enjoy the experience, not dread night time.
Luckily there are some tools that can help you through this time so you can get the rest you need.
Here are 5 things that can help you navigate through sleep deprivation.
1. Ask for help. If you are the one doing all of the night time wake up calls, then ask your spouse or a family member to take a shift so you can get some shut eye. I know this can be easier said than done, but what if they gave you a few hours to rest so you could re-energize and at least give your brain a little reset. It’s worth a shot. Sometimes your spouse or significant other doesn’t know how much you are suffering until you ask for help.
2. Nap when your little one naps. Even if it’s only for thirty minutes at a time, then get that shut eye. Sometimes we have messy kitchens and loads of laundry and adult phone calls to make about prescriptions and Doctor appointments, but that sleep is vital to your survival. Those other things can wait.
3. Delegate the bedtime routine and feeding. This one is especially important for nursing Moms. If you can pump at least once per day and let someone else handle the bedtime routine, you will get some much needed shut eye and your baby will learn to be less dependent on you. This will be helpful as they get older and don’t need to rely on Mama as much. I know it’s hard to give up the reigns, especially when nursing, but sometimes you just have to do what’s best for you. Ultimately that is the best thing for baby too.
4. Make sure your bedroom is set up for optimal rest. The light from a street lamp shining in your window, the buzz of a baby monitor, an uncomfortable mattress, or household noises can all keep you from getting the best sleep. Get some room darkening shades and make sure your blinds are closed. Try a white noise machine or a fan to cover any background noises and help you relax. Purchase a face mask and lie down on some comfortable pillows that allow you to relax. Turn off your cell phone and let your eyes have a break. These are all things that can help you rest well even if you are waiting for your next wake up call.
5. Find the best sleep option for baby. Recommendations are put in place to give you some guidance, but they aren’t concrete rules. Just because you bought the nice crib doesn’t mean your baby is going to want to sleep in it. They may hate the fancy bassinet you bought and be more comfortable with the blanket your Great Aunt knit for them than the fluffy sheets you bought. That is ok. If you want to sleep, help baby sleep too. Move around some furniture, find a sound machine that helps calm baby down, allow them to find a comfortable sleeping position that lets them rest. All of these things will help your little one find what works best for them. That also works best for you.
The most important thing is to be patient. Give yourself grace and know that you are not the only one suffering from sleep deprivation. Chances are a single Mom at work with multiple kids is dealing with it too. Yes it is hard, but you will sleep again. In the meantime, there are ways that you can get some sleep, most of them involve asking for some help.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.