While all babies are different, new parents tend to have one major thing in common: sleep deprivation. While common, being awake night and day with your baby can quickly take a serious toll on your emotions, health, and mental state. In fact, studies show that sleep deprivation leads to increased stress and relationship problems, increased risk of injuries, higher blood pressure, decreased mental function, and a host of other potentially serious problems. Plus, a well-rested parent is a happier and more effective parent.
Luckily, there are ways to get more rest as a new parent. Here are five ideas to consider:
Sleep When Your Baby Sleeps
You may see your baby's naps and other stretches of sleep as opportunities to get things done around the house or catch up with friends and family, but it's better to put these things off if you haven't gotten enough rest. Instead, take advantage of your baby's sleep and get into the habit of sleeping at the same time.
If you find your mind races and you have trouble settling down to sleep, try these tricks for getting to sleep quickly. Once you've caught up on sleep for the day you can always use any subsequent naps as chances to catch up on other things.
Outsource Household Tasks
Feeling like you have to stay on top of all household tasks while also being responsible for a baby can lead to a lot of lost sleep. Instead, look for ways to outsource chores whenever possible. This might mean hiring a cleaning service twice a month, paying the teenager down the street to mow the lawn, hiring a dog walker, or simply asking your spouse to help with dinner prep and dishes a few nights a week. By asking for help when you need it, you can stay focused on your baby while also getting more rest and feeling less stressed.
Even if you are a stay-at-home parent, daycare can be a life saver. Knowing that your baby is being professionally cared for and looked after even just a few hours a week can make a huge difference in how much rest and relaxation you get. Drop your baby off at daycare, and gain peace of mind knowing they're being well taken care of by trained professionals. Then go home, soak in the quiet, and take a nice long nap.
Get Help with Nighttime Feedings
If one parent handles all of the nighttime feedings for a new baby, that parent will soon be exhausted and sleep-deprived. Don't be afraid to ask for help with at least one bottle feeding per night, whether you're asking for help from your partner, a trusted family member who offers to help, or even a paid night nurse. Getting help for a nighttime feeding or two means you get a longer stretch of uninterrupted sleep, making the next day much easier to tackle.
Try the Watch and Wait Method
As long as you know your baby is not hungry and doesn't need to be changed, you don't necessarily need to get up and disrupt your night every single time you hear them fuss or cry over the baby monitor. Sometimes it's perfectly fine to simply watch and wait. Babies often fuss for a minute or two as they're settling back to sleep. If they continue to cry you can of course go pick them up, but if they fall back asleep right away you can give yourself permission to do the same.
By following these tips, you may soon find yourself getting more rest and feeling much less overwhelmed.