For new parents, getting enough sleep is a whole new battlefield. Multiple feedings every night, diaper changes at 3:00 am, and fussiness in the wee hours of the morning or night can turn the most patient parents into sleepy, cranky versions of themselves, said Sarah Garone of Healthline, a medical information and health advice.
David Klose, certified sleep science coach for Amerisleep, informed Today, a TV program, "It’s up to you as a parent to get adequate sleep each night to ensure you’re well-rested enough to be present with your kids," reported Ronnie Koenig. Despite newborns having a different sleep needs than adults, it is possible to get enough rest by creating a plan that will overlap with your sleeping routine, as well as your baby’s. Our bodies like to sleep on a schedule so it is best to take into consideration flexibility and consistency in your routine.
Parents Are Losing Sleep When Taking Care of Their Newborn
Owlet Baby Care, a health technology company, found that only 5% of parents of newborns 0-6 months old were getting the recommended eight hours of sleep a night whereas 43% said they only get an average of one to three hours of uninterrupted sleep, reported PR Newswire, a press release distribution website. Moms often reported being often kept awake by housework (37%) while dads often lost sleep due to worrying about providing a good life for their child (32%).
Owlet Baby Care also revealed that the advice “sleep when baby sleeps” does not hold true for today’s parents, as 41% of parents were unable to sleep during the daytime hours while their baby sleeps. 30% of new fathers reported falling asleep at work. 21% of new parents had fallen asleep in a parked car, 12% slept at the kitchen table, 11% fell asleep in the shower. When asked how much would parents pay for a full night’s rest, half of them said they would pay at least $100 for a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, with one in ten saying they would pay $1,000.
Aside from sleep deprivation, new parents also reported other activities and concerns that stop them from getting a good night’s rest. For example, 30% of new moms and 18% of new dads were being kept aware by social media. In another survey by Sleep Junkie, a website that publishes up-to-date sleep health information and reviews and sales guides on mattresses, only 10% of parents got more than seven hours of sleep after having a baby, said Meg Riley.
To get their babies to sleep, parents reported feeding (spending 1 hour 46 minutes on this activity), walking (1 hour 21 minutes), driving (41 minutes), reading (34 minutes), bathing (29 minutes), and burping (24 minutes) them. Before having a baby, 68% got more than seven hours of sleep. When asked how they spend their time, 24.7% of parents said other, 20.2% slept, 8.2% did household chores, and 6.6% had leisure time. They also spent their time playing with the baby (13.1%), feeding the baby (8.2%), engaging in self-care (5.5%), trying to get the baby to sleep (4.8%), socializing (4.7%), and changing or washing the baby (4.3%).
What Should New Parents Expect?
Newborns are not biologically programmed to sleep soundly, noted Wendy Wisner of Very Well Family, a website that focuses on topics ranging from kid’s health to parenting tips. Hence, it is common for babies to wake up multiple times each night for the first three months of its life. And oftentimes, it’s much longer than that.
Babies spend 50% of their time in active sleep or REM sleep for the first six months. They are more likely to be awake easily during this time. For the first three to four months or longer, babies wake up to eat— even if at midnight. Until your child reaches pre-school age, they have shorter sleep cycles than adults, which is 50 minutes in contrast to 90 minutes. Babies don’t have regulated circadian rhythms until about six weeks. This means they sleep in “uneven chunks,” as they are often wide awake in the middle of the night.
How Can New Parents Get Enough ZZZs
1. Reduce Screentime
Adults as well as kids should turn off their screens at least an hour before bedtime, recommended Nicole Cannon, a certified infant and child sleep consultant and owner of Sleepy Mama. Your body needs ample melatonin levels to feel tired enough to fall asleep and stay asleep during the night. Blue light from devices tricks your body into thinking that it’s daytime rather than nighttime.
2. Make A Plan
It is advisable to create a post-partum plan to help you deal with sleep deprivation. For example, your partner can take feed your baby at night or bring them to you for breastfeeding. If you want, you can have an extended family member or a post-partum doula/baby nurse to help you take care of your baby while you sleep.
3. Create A Sleep Environment
Is your bedroom a relaxing place for you and your baby? sleep educator Terry Cralle, MS, RN, CPHQ., said, “Keep clutter, exercise bikes, unfolded laundry, and that stack of bills out of the bedroom.” Don’t feel bad if you need to temporarily sleep in a separate bed from your partner. “Sufficient sleep contributes to healthy and happy relationships, and sleeping in separate beds is a healthy option,” Cralle added.
4. Leave Work At Work
Since we live in a more interconnected world, work projects and deadlines can creep into your home life, preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. During the first few months, try to keep work-related emails, texts, phone calls, and other matters at work. You can also consider discussing your situation with your supervisor or HR department. For example, you can propose telecommuting and having a flexible work schedule as sleep-friendly options to your superior.
5. Engage In Me Time
If it’s not possible to get seven to nine hours of sleep a day, consider making time for your hobbies and other activities that will help you rejuvenate like cooking. Tracie Kesatie, MA, of Rest Well Baby explained, “You may be wondering how it’s even possible to pursue a hobby when you have a baby, but finding some time (even a few minutes) every day to do something that you really enjoy can help reduce stress.”
Don’t forget to exercise and eat a healthy diet. Work with your partner to ensure that both of you get sufficient sleep. After all, taking care of a newborn involves collaboration; it is not a job for one parent to shoulder.