New Moms and Sleep Deprivation
Almost all new moms will deal with sleep deprivation or insomnia at some stage within the first 6 to 12 months of their newborn’s life.
Babies need at least a few months to begin developing circadian rhythms which keep them awake during the day and asleep at night. This means new moms will need to adapt to their newborn’s sleeping routine consisting of short but many naps spread throughout the day and night.
According to Lauren Broch, Ph.D., the director of education and training at the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, fragmented sleep not only leaves you exhausted but also affects the way you think and cope. Impaired judgment stemming from sleep deprivation can even put both you and your baby’s safety at risk.
Additionally, chronic insomnia has been to linked to a range of medical problem including loss of concentration and high blood pressure.
Baby Sleep Patterns
During the first 4 to 6 months, babies tend to sleep soundly in 2 to 4 hour periods, spaced evenly throughout the 24-hour day. As their circadian clock begins to develop from 6 months onward, they will start to sleep for 6-hour periods throughout the night, and no longer require night feedings.
Infants between 6 to 9 months of age may begin night waking. Don’t worry as this is a normal part of development, and should usually only last a few minutes at most. Instead of rushing to your baby’s side, allow some time for him or her self-soothe and fall asleep on their own.
If your baby keeps fussing and crying, check for other reasons that may be keeping your baby up. He or she might be hungry or overheated, may have overslept during the day, or be experiencing separation anxiety.
Strategies To Help You Get the Rest You Need
With planning, preparation, and prioritization, you can make it possible to get the sleep you need to take care of yourself and your baby. Read on for tips to help you achieve this.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps
Although easier said than done, sleeping in short, broken intervals are still better than no sleep at all. To help with sleeping during daylight hours, try blocking out sunlight with thick curtains or drapes. You can also use eye masks and earplugs.
It’s also a good idea to try and catch up on sleep during the weekends if you have help with looking after the little one.
- Take turns doing the night-shift
Having a partner to alternate between night duty is a great way to ensure at least one of you gets an uninterrupted night's sleep. If you are breastfeeding then you might want to consider pumping and storing milk for when it’s dad’s turn to stay up.
- Prioritize sleep
Prioritizing sleep means learning to say “no” to other requests that are not strictly necessary, especially within the first 3 months.
- Create a standard bedtime routine
A simple bedtime routine can help get your baby sleeping through the night sooner. This could involve a bath, changing into sleep clothes or a lullaby to help ease them into sleep. Moving the bedtime earlier also helps lengthen the sleep period.
- Agnes Yoon