Parenthood brings a whirlwind of sleep challenges, leaving parents longing for a good night’s rest. Sleep deprivation is a common struggle, especially for new parents. The constant awakenings, tireless feeding sessions and never-ending soothing efforts throughout the night can leave you feeling like a walking zombie during the day. The struggle to find a balance between attending to your newborn’s needs and satisfying your own sleep requirements can be overwhelming, to say the least. In the upcoming sections, we’ll guide you through the sleep hurdles and provide valuable tips to help you conquer sleepless nights of early parenthood.
Does parenthood really impact your sleep patterns?
Welcoming a child into the family can greatly impact the quantity and quality of sleep for new parents. A study has revealed that over 60% of parents with babies under 24 months get no more than three-and-a-quarter hours of sleep each night. Another survey further indicates that most new parents are getting between 5 and 6 hours of sleep during the first year after having a baby. This translates to a cumulative loss of 218 minutes or over 3.5 hours of sleep for both parents! These statistics reflect the immense sleep challenges new parents face, as the demands of caring for a newborn often disrupt normal sleep patterns.
How does lack of sleep affect parents?
Aside from the common symptoms of sleep deprivation, such as irritability, lack of focus, anxiety, depression, and an increased risk of accidents, the lack of sleep can also impact parents in other ways, including:
Research indicates that inadequate sleep is associated with higher levels of caregiver stress and difficulty regulating emotions, resulting in less positive parenting behaviours. Caregivers experiencing fragmented or insufficient sleep tend to exhibit less warmth and responsiveness towards their children before their bedtime compared to those who get more sleep. Furthermore, studies show that sleep-deprived parents may react impulsively when faced with frustration, affecting their ability to handle parenting challenges calmly. Recognising these effects highlights the importance of prioritising parental sleep and well-being to promote a positive and nurturing environment for the child’s development.
As evidence suggests, sleep deprivation can significantly influence the development of postpartum psychiatric disorders. Studies reveal that women with postpartum depression (PPD) sleep approximately 80 minutes less per night than those without PPD. Moreover, infants of depressed mothers tend to experience disrupted sleep themselves, creating a distressing loop that hinders parents from obtaining their much-needed rest. Furthermore, a research conducted by CDC revealed that about 1 in 8 women who have recently given birth encounter symptoms of postpartum depression. The lack of sleep from caring for a newborn can worsen these feelings, emphasising the critical relationship between sleep and postpartum mental health.
Sleep Tips for New Parents
Caring for a baby is rewarding but undoubtedly challenging for any parent, especially for those new to parenthood. To help you through this journey, we’ve gathered some helpful tips to improve your sleep quality as parents.
#1 Focus on your health
Prioritise your health to maintain your well-being and function better despite little sleep. Find time for exercise to release endorphins which help boost your energy and overall health. Stay hydrated, especially if you’re breastfeeding, and focus on a nutritious and balanced diet to fuel yourself with the energy needed to care for your baby. Taking care of yourself is essential for being the best parent you can be.
#2 Practice a relaxing routine
Creating a relaxing bedtime routine might seem challenging with a newborn, but it can make a big difference in improving sleep. Whether it’s taking a warm bath, reading a book, journaling or practising meditation, dedicating some time to unwind before sleep can be beneficial for parents.
#3 Create a comfortable sleeping environment
For better sleep, aim for a cool, quiet and dark sleeping environment, which is generally ideal for adults. You can enhance your sleep experience with additional elements, such as aromatherapy using essential oils or playing soothing music. Invest in a mattress that supports your body and promotes restful sleep. If you or your partner are light sleepers, consider taking turns being “on-duty” while the other sleeps, or explore the option of sleeping in separate bedrooms if it suits your needs.
#4 Sleep when your baby sleeps
Experts advise taking advantage of your baby’s nap times to get some rest yourself. Even a quick 10-20 minute power nap can work wonders, leaving you feeling recharged and reducing stress levels.
#5 Maximise parental leave
If you are a working parent with parental leave benefits, take advantage of this valuable time to bond with your baby, help your partner out and recharge so you can return to work with renewed energy and focus. Work is important, but so is your health and your family’s well-being.
#6 Ask family and friends for support
Seeking support from trusted family and friends doesn’t make you a lesser parent; it’s essential for your well-being. Remember, you are human too and need rest. Whether it’s having someone bathe the baby or watch over them while you do house chores, accepting help is a sign of strength and ensures you have the energy and time to be the best parent you can be. Embrace the assistance offered with gratitude and know that it takes a village to raise a child.
To all parents out there, remember that you’re doing an incredible job! Embrace the sleep tips we’ve shared to prioritise your well-being and that of your little one. With time, patience and love, you’ll find the perfect balance between caring for your baby and yourself.
If you need more support in ensuring a good night’s rest, check out our Posturepedic mattress range or use our mattress selector tool to find the ideal fit for your sleep needs. Treat yourself to the gift of rejuvenating sleep as you continue embracing the joys of parenthood!