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Sleep Tips to Help New Moms Get Some Rest

by BetterSleep
May 23 • 10 min read
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A mother’s sleep patterns are greatly disturbed when a baby is born. In addition to nighttime feedings and diaper changes, many newborns have their days and nights mixed up.

New moms may be the most sleep-deprived part of the population. A recent survey found that almost half of new moms get just one to three hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. New dads do their part, but the moms get up most often at night as they are responsible for feedings in those early months.

While as a new mom, you can expect to get less sleep than ever before, there is no reason to turn into a zombie. We put together some valuable tips to help you get a good night’s sleep!

How babies impact mom’s sleep

Unsurprisingly, a new baby means far less sleep for a mom. The most obvious way in which a new baby prevents sleep is feeding. Infants don’t eat on the same schedule as kids and adults. New moms must get up in the middle of the night to feed. And sometimes babies cry; they need diaper changes; they need comforting, and they don’t operate on an adult clock.

While things will improve once babies start sleeping through the night, new research indicates sleep deprivation is not the end. Researchers tracked parents’ sleep habits with new babies for seven years as their children grew.

Moms reported a more significant drop in sleep quality and amount than dads. But what was surprising was that even four to six years later, parents still hadn’t recovered their original levels of sleep quality or sleep time. And, of course, moms fared worse.

The science behind sleep and newborns

Babies need a lot of sleep. In their first few months, you may observe that your baby sleeps up to 18 hours daily. But that doesn’t mean they’ll sleep through the night. It’s normal for babies to wake up several times during the night.

This is because your baby has a shorter sleep cycle than you. They go through light, deep, and REM sleep several times a night. And they may spend less time in the deep and REM stages than adults. Babies wake up more often and may have difficulty falling asleep again.

Sleep is important for your baby’s development, whether during the day or at night. It helps them grow and repair their bodies, aids brain development and strengthens their immune system. You want to encourage your baby to sleep as much as possible. Trust us; you’ll both be better off for it.

So get ready for a long haul, new moms, and try these helpful tips to get more and better sleep when you can.

How to get sleep with a newborn

Good sleep hygiene helps create healthy sleeping habits that can promote sleep. Here are a few tips to help you get more than a few hours of shut-eye, even as a new mom:

Make sleep a top priority

To be healthy, you need adequate rest. This may mean giving up some other things to make sleep one of your biggest priorities. Maybe you won’t be able to watch your favorite show for a few months or go out with friends at night, but these are temporary sacrifices to stay healthy and happy.

You should also try to avoid working at night if possible. Working while caring for a baby can be overwhelming and make it even harder to overcome sleep deprivation. Here are some other specific ways new moms can reduce sleepless nights:

  • Invest in a good quality mattress, pillow, and bedding. This will help you be more comfortable and get better sleep.
  • Create a bedtime routine and stick to it. This will help prep your body for sleep and make it easier to fall asleep when you finally get in bed. You can also run a warm bath before going to bed.
  • Make your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. This will help you get enough sleep - sleep that’s also better and deeper.

Sleep when you can – when the baby sleeps

Newborn babies sleep about 16 hours each day, and eight of those hours are actually during the daytime. This allows you to catch some cat naps here and there. When your baby nods off, try to get some sleep in.

You may not be able to get a total of eight hours at night, but you can certainly take advantage of those daytime naps. Set the alarm if you need to so you don’t sleep too long and throw off your nighttime routine.

If you have sleepless nights because you are anxious about sleep-related infant deaths, you can practice safe sleep by following these tips:

  • Always put the baby on their back to sleep.
  • Use a firm mattress with fitted sheets.
  • Remove pillows, quilts, and other soft bedding from the baby’s sleep area.

Don’t sweat the small chores

You would not be the first new mom to feel guilty about napping during the day. There are endless chores to do, but now is not the time to stress over them. Let the dishes pile up; skip cleaning the bathroom for another day, and don’t worry about dust on surfaces. What you and your baby need now is for you to practice good sleep hygiene.

It’s also important to let go of any perfectionism you may have. Your baby will not remember if the house is spotless or you cooked a five-course meal. They will only remember that you were there for them. So focus on what’s important – taking care of yourself and your baby.

Accept help, then take a nap.

New moms are modern-day heroes, but they still can’t do it all. Let others help you. Try to get support from friends and family when it makes sense. Use that valuable free time to get an hour or two of sleep.

If you have a partner, delegate some nighttime feedings and diaper changes. You can also try to pump breast milk so your partner can feed the baby a bottle of expressed milk.

There are also many services available to help new parents. You can hire a night nurse, postpartum doula, or a mother’s helper. These are all great ways to get some extra rest and support. The cost may be worth considering the price of sleep deprivation.

Take early morning walks

A recent sleep and light exposure study investigated office workers, but the findings can also be applied to new moms. After tracking exposure to light, sleep habits, and mood in over 100 workers, the researchers found there were benefits of morning light exposure: better quality and more sleep at night, less stress, and improved mood. A morning walk with a baby is a great way to get natural light and exercise (therefore, better sleep!)

Some other things you can do to get more light exposure during the day are:

  • Open the curtains or blinds in your home
  • Sit near a window when possible
  • Use a light box if you’re not getting enough natural light

How to get your newborn to sleep through the night

The truth is, no one answer will let your baby sleep through the night. Newborns have different sleep patterns and schedules, so it may take trial and error to figure out what works for your little one.

Keep your baby close by for the first year in a safe infant sleeping environment. You can use a bassinet, crib, or co-sleeper so the baby can sleep in your room. This will make it easier to feed them during the night and reduce the risk of SIDS.

One method that may help is called “the pause-and-see approach.” Also known as “Le Pause,” a French pediatrician developed this sleep training method. This means letting your baby fuss for a few minutes before you check on them. You can soothe them if they are still crying after a few minutes.

It’s important to remember that this method won’t work for every baby. If you feel like your baby is in distress or if they are crying for more than 30 minutes, then it’s best to check on them as soon as possible. For example, if your baby is hungry or has a dirty diaper, it will need your help immediately.

Some other tips that may help you get your newborn to sleep through the night are:

Creating a bedtime routine

When your baby is around 2 months old, you can start to create a bedtime routine. This may include a bath, quiet time, and nursing or feeding. This will help signal to your baby that it’s time to sleep.

Putting your baby down drowsy but awake

You want to avoid putting your baby down when they are fast asleep. This can create a sleep association, making it harder for them to fall asleep independently. Instead, put them down when they are drowsy but still awake.

Swaddling your baby

Swaddling can help your baby feel snug and secure, which may help them fall asleep and sleep for longer periods. Just be sure to stop swaddling once your baby starts to roll over, as this can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Putting your baby to sleep in their crib or bassinet

Sleeping in the same bed as your baby (co-sleeping) can be dangerous. It’s best to put your baby in their crib or bassinet to sleep. This will reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related problems. Just make sure that your baby is in the same room as you.

Avoiding stimulation before bedtime

You want to avoid anything that will stimulate your baby before bedtime. This includes watching TV, playing active games, or using your phone or tablet. Instead, try reading a book or singing lullabies.

Make sure the room is dark and quiet

Create a dark and quiet environment for your baby to sleep in. This will help them feel calm and relaxed and promote better sleep. Newborns don’t need a lot of light, so you can use a small nightlight or keep the curtains drawn.

Listening to white noise with your baby

Did you know that white noise has been proven to help babies fall asleep? White noise is a sound that blends different frequencies, creating a soothing drone. Try out various types of white noise as you put your baby to bed at night. Find one that you both like. This can be a great bonding experience and a way for both mom and baby to drift off to sleep more easily each night.

There are many white noise apps and devices available. You can also try a fan, humidifier, or recording waves crashing on a beach.

The BetterSleep app features different white noise sounds that you can try for free and mix to create your perfect sleep ambiance.

When To Seek Professional Help for Sleep Deprivation

If you’ve tried all these tips and you’re still not getting enough sleep, it may be time to seek professional help. Talk to your baby’s pediatrician about your sleep problems and sleep deprivation. They may be able to refer you to a sleep specialist, prescribe sleep medicine, or give you some additional advice.

Final Thoughts

The first few months with a new baby are tough; there’s no denying it. But by following these tips, you can get the sleep you need to feel your best. Remember to be patient and give yourself time to adjust to this new life stage. Soon enough, you and your baby will sleep like… well, babies!

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