Welcome back! In my previous Sleep Tips for New Parents: Part 1 post I shared my first three tips and strategies for new parents. I hope you found them helpful. Now, I’m going to share my seven remaining tips for new parents. See below and leave a comment if you have any questions.
4. Take advantage of the baby’s nap times. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to “nap when the baby naps” as is a popular tip, at least lie down and relax. If you fall asleep, great! If not, at least you’re off your feet and resting. Turn the phones off, and get into a cool, comfortable place. A good goal should be to get a total 7 – 8 hours of sleep per day (as opposed to all at once at night). Preservation of total sleep time will do wonders. A good time to really try to nap is early afternoon when we usually experience a slight dip in core body temperature as well as a slight drop in the alerting signal of our circadian rhythms. Not only is it the easiest time to fall asleep, a solid 90-minute nap most likely will produce a full cycle of sleep that mirrors the exact percentages of sleep stages that occur during the night. Think of it as the “perfect” nap—a mini night’s sleep!
5. As baby begins to “learn” how to sleep, take turns putting the baby down, whenever possible, and sooth the baby in similar ways. If mom is the only one putting baby to bed or down to nap, when dad has to—the baby may not like it!
6. Enlist help the first month for around the house. Friends, family (or even Dad can take a day off per week to help out!) Don’t expect or even try to keep the house perfect. Any spare time you manage should be to sleep, rest or relax.
7. Speed is of the essence. When awakened at night for a feeding or a changing, have everything ready and only do what’s necessary to complete the task and quickly get back to bed. Keep lights as dim as safety permits (bright lights will totally shut down the secretion of melatonin and will disrupt your sleep.) If it’s not your “turn” consider wearing an eye mask and/or ear plugs so you’re not disturbed, or mask the sounds with a soothing sound machine.
8. Exercise. It reduces stress, improves mood, induces deeper sleep and is essential for your overall health. Try to keep a regular meal schedule as well.
9. Avoid sleep medications. They do not allow for an irregular sleep schedule or short nights of sleep. Consult with your physician on any such decisions.
10. As early as possible, begin to teach your baby to fall asleep “by themselves”. If you’re always putting the baby down asleep (after rocking, or strolling, etc) they may not be able to fall back asleep by themselves if awakened. At about three or four months, your child will begin to associate your routines, certain times of the day, the crib, the sensation of being tired with the process of falling asleep. They learn quickly, if you are consistent. Routines are critical.
Good luck and sleep well!