Being a new parent is exciting, exhilarating, confusing – and sometimes overwhelming! There is so much to learn about your new arrival, from how they feed to how to settle them. Now, this would all be fine if you were getting enough sleep yourself, but if you are a new parent that’s not likely to be the case. In fact, a study has shown that new parents may be losing an average of 3 hours of sleep per night during their first year of parenthood.
Don’t worry, it’s completely normal. And we have some sleeping tips to help you ensure that you make the most of your sleep in those difficult early weeks.
Sleeping tip 1: When they sleep, you sleep
This is the oldest sleeping tip of all for new parents. Rather than expecting to maintain your old sleep schedule, it’s far better to take advantage of their nap times to sleep yourself. Don't spend this valuable time cleaning or catching up with friends. Until things get into more of a routine this is your golden opportunity!
This sleeping tip might mean going to bed earlier than you normally would, but it does mean you will avoid going too far into a sleep debt that will make you exhausted.
Sleeping tip 2: Have your baby sleep in their own bed
While it can be wonderful to hold a sleeping baby, it’s going to be hard for you to get your own sleep if you are holding them. Once they are either about to go to sleep or happily settled, put them to sleep in their own cot, and then you can get on to tip number three.
Sleeping tip 3: Arrange naps
When you are in sleep debt, one good way to balance things is to take short naps. These can be quite short, from 10-20 minutes or even up to 40 minutes, but they work well as a way to top up on sleep and keep your energy levels high. You can, of course, take a nap while your baby is sleeping, but you can also arrange different shifts with your partner to ensure that at least one of you is able to get some sleep while the other watches the baby. If you don’t have a partner, ask a friend or relative to help out and let you get some rest.
Sleeping tip 4: Keep your own room ready for sleep
Make sure your own sleeping arrangements are conducive to getting a quick nap. Ensure that your room is neither too hot nor cold, keep it dark, and make sure everything is as comfortable as possible. With your room all ready, it will be easier for you to get some quality rest when your little ones finally close their eyes.
Sleeping tip 5: Don’t put yourself under pressure
There is no magic way to stop babies from waking every few hours for a feed. It’s completely natural. Even more frustratingly, there is no guaranteed pattern for every baby. What works one week may not work the next, and your baby’s sleep pattern could continue to change. That’s just part of your little one growing up.
But one thing is certainly true: the more you worry about getting to sleep, the harder it will be! So try to relax, accept that things will be difficult sleep-wise, but remember that it’s only temporary.
With all this said, do listen to friends and family. If they mention that they are worried, or if you find you are feeling lower than usual and your lack of sleep is starting to cause you serious problems, then reach out to a sleep expert. We are here to help.