Instead, what are some ways for new parents to maintain proper sleep hygiene and get a good amount of rest in manageable ways?
Here are our top 3 sleep tips for parents of a newborn.
Make Part of Your Home a Relaxing Setting
Having a new born is hardly relaxing! But there are a number of simple ways that you can incorporate relaxation into your home and your daily life.
Find an area of your home, like the baby’s room or a comfortable nursing chair somewhere, and make it a comfortable and relaxing spot. Turn down bright lights and opt for low lighting instead. If you are waking up for a feeding in the middle of the night, come to this spot and keep the lights down low. Bright light disrupts sleep and our sleep-wake cycle.
Because your sleep patterns will be all over the place, do what you can to maintain “nighttime” at night and daylight illumination when it’s daytime.
Use this space as your relaxing zone. Ensure the chair is comfortable and the lighting is low. For peak relaxation, consider keeping a speaker nearby for soothing ambient sounds or music, and a book (or something other than your phone) for moments when you can capture some peace and quiet while the baby feeds or sleeps on your chest. These kinds of precious moments are the perk of being a new mom!
If you’re feeling really tired and absolutely need to get some rest, take a 20 minute power nap. According to studies, the 20 minute power nap is effective at giving you all the benefits of sleep without leaving you groggy. It will be just enough to help refill your tank and improve your focus.
Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing
For a good sleep or to decrease stress levels in general, practise deep diaphragmatic breathing, also known as “belly breathing”.
Breathing exercises are a great way to get your body into a relaxed and restorative state. By taking deep inhales and exhales, and engaging in “belly breathing”, we stimulate the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve runs from the head down the neck, through the chest and to the colon. Stimulating the vagus nerve slips us into a relaxed, or “rest and digest” state. It’s here that our heart rate begins to slow, blood pressure lowers, and our body’s stress response decreases.
To engage in belly breathing, take a seat somewhere comfortable, sitting upright with your feet flat on the ground. Place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose, focusing on expanding your stomach and pressing into your hand. When you exhale, allow both your stomach and the chest to fall inwards, relaxing down as the air releases from your lungs.
Take Turns Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
It can feel difficult to establish any semblance of a routine when you’ve got a newborn. But if you can manage to find a system for sleeping that works for both parents, take advantage of it!
Perhaps one of you has trouble sleeping in and the other loves to – set it up so that one takes early morning feedings and the other stays up and is responsible for the late night feedings. This way you can attempt to establish healthy sleep hygiene, by each getting more consecutive hours of sleep.
While sleeping problems are no fun, aim to set a consistent sleep schedule that works for your schedules and maintain as many consecutive hours of sleep as possible each.
When it’s your turn to get a few hours of shut-eye, don’t allow tossing and turning to get you up out of bed. Take this time to rest and recover from the demanding schedule of providing for a newborn. Make this a time of relaxation, by keeping the lights low and reading a book instead of exposing yourself to the artificial light of your phone.
If you’re missing spending time with your partner, set up a time one hour before bed for both of you to wind down and benefit from an environment of relaxation. This will prepare both of you for more restful sleep, helping you to stay asleep better and longer. Avoid the stimulus of TV and phones, and do something nice for one another. Whether that be a wholesome meal and conversation, or a warm tea and a quiet feeding – enjoy this time together as a new family.
Being new parents puts a strain on your own health and wellbeing. Try to implement the above 3 tips to ensure that both parents can get adequate rest, relaxation, and sleep. This will help you better attend to your baby’s needs, as well as better support your partner in the joint care of your child.
Sometimes rest and recovery isn’t going to be about getting a solid night’s sleep, but by incorporating relaxing spaces, practises, and systems that work for both of you, hopefully you can look out for each other’s well being to the best of your abilities!
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