I am a new parent. So like other new parents, I am sleep deprived. I know this is common, so I am not worried—just sleepy. But lately I have been barely hobbling along every day. When I finally get some sleep, I fall hard—as if I had taken NyQuil or sleeping pills. And my husband’s loud snoring? It doesn’t even matter! I just sleep through it.
I did not realize how much I was sleep deprived until yesterday when I found myself asleep with my phone in my hand. It wasn’t bedtime, the lights were on and I had work clothes. I was on the second floor and woke up after I heard my son cry. He was with my husband, so I knew he was fine. But I was confused. What was I doing in bed? Why did I have my phone in my hand? After a few minutes, I remembered that I had gone upstairs to call my mother. I remembered some of our conversation, but I could not remember the end of the call. So I called my mother and asked her if her phone got disconnected during our call. She explained that she hung up because I had fallen asleep during our conversation. Okay, yeah, that happens, but I was calling to check on her recovery after a recent surgery. Yeah, I feel terrible! How could I fall asleep during such an important call?
I recently read that there is new research that shows new parents face up to six years of sleep deprivation. Six years! Although the first three months of a child’s life are the hardest on sleep, the increased demands and responsibilities associated with being a parent are what contribute to a parents’ continued shortened sleep. So I did some online research to see what tips there are to help sleep-deprived parents, like me, manage this issue. Below are some good recommendations I found in an article from Parents Magazine.
Make up for lost sleep. Over a short period of sleep deprivation, it is possible to compensate for some of the sleep you have missed. When a person who’s long been without sleep finally gets some shut-eye, the brain will make up both deep and REM sleep
Catch a nap. New moms shouldn’t try to be more productive during baby’s nap time. A 20- to 30-minute nap will refresh you without causing sleep inertia, that groggy, out-of-it feeling when you wake up.
Trade off middle-of-the-night feedings. Rotate nights, so one parent does all the feedings while the other sleeps. That way, at least one person gets a good night’s sleep, instead of both of you getting fragmented sleep.
Turn down the monitor. Newborns are active sleepers. If your baby is groaning or whimpering during the night, that doesn’t mean you need to leap out of bed. Teach your baby to sleep through the night.
I can’t imagine walking around like a zombie for four more years—my son will be in First Grade by then! So I am going to work on some of these tips to regain my life…and dignity!