While welcoming your new baby into your home can bring a bevy of wonderful moments, it can also pose real issues for your sleep. Though many of the challenges to getting a full night’s sleep can persist for a while, there are still steps that you can take to try to reduce sleep deprivation and its impacts.
Sleeping when your baby sleeps. If your newborn takes a nap in the afternoon, try to nap right alongside them. While it’s tempting to try to handle other chores or projects while your baby is napping, this is a great time to help get caught up on your total sleep hours. If possible, try to make it through a full sleep cycle (90 minutes).
Optimize your environment: when you go to bed, you want to be able to fall asleep quickly and get the most restful sleep possible. This involves several steps:
Keep it dark: try to avoid blinking lights (like chargers) that are easily visible. Consider using blackout curtains if your current blinds let in a lot of exterior light.
Limit screens in the bedroom: studies have demonstrated that the light that we’re exposed to during “screen time” interrupts our natural processes to help fall asleep. Try to also avoid screen time if you wake up in the night to feed or otherwise take care of the baby.
Have a cozy bed: if your old mattress isn’t providing you the comfort and support that you need, give some serious thought to adding a mattress topper or replacing the mattress altogether.
Exercise: though its exact impact on sleep is not fully understood, exercise is an important part of your overall health and early indications are that it may ease problems with insomnia.
Find a relaxation program: whether it’s deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, or yoga, finding a relaxation strategy that works for you can help you get to bed and can decrease stress levels.
Avoid caffeine: coffee, many teas, sodas, and other caffeinated beverages can all interfere with your ability to get to sleep, especially if consumed in the afternoon or later.
Limit alcohol: even though alcohol may bring temporary stress relief and can make you sleepy, the sleep you get when buzzed is typically of lower quality.
Consult your physician: if you are continually struggling with sleep or if you notice that you have persistent issues with depression, anxiety, fatigue, or other symptoms of PPD, talk to your doctor. They can help discuss what to expect and any steps that may be available to help.