10 ways to get a better night’s sleep

10 tips to improve sleep for new parents

The baby has arrived and it’s a bundle of joy! What’s not so joyous is your baby’s apparent enjoyment of stealing your precious sleep. Nearly all mums suffer from sleep deprivation once their baby is born and it can drive you near insane, but it’s completely avoidable if you know how. These key tips ought to have you back to a healthy sleep routine even with a lively, nocturnal baby.

10 ways to get a better night's sleep

Sleep when your baby sleeps

Our babies sleep up to 16 hours a day, naturally you won’t sleep this much but stealing a few winks while your baby is napping is 100% healthy! Having a baby is a wonderful gift but it involves a never ending routine; nap, feed, cry, nappy change, nap, cry, feed, nappy change... It’s a constant process that takes up your time! A lot of mums use the time the baby sleeps to get on with ‘essential’ housework and day to day chores, but listen up mums, don’t do it! Cram in some extra sleep, you’re constantly running around making you more tired and losing sleep due to late night sleeps. No one will judge you for it and you will quickly learn not to sweat the small stuff.

 Turn off electronics

It can seem very appealing to wind down at the end of the day with your favourite TV show or feel-good film but mums and dads, if you want to do this, do it earlier in the night. Studies have shown that the glare and constant movement of the screen will keep your brain stimulated, and the light from the screen will con your body into thinking it is daylight. Therefore even if your body feels like it’s relaxing, your mind will still be busily ticking over, keeping you awake for longer.

Read a book

Swap in your favourite TV shows for a book at the end of the night. As we know the light from the screen keeps our brains racing, however when reading a book your eyes have to work and focus to read the words. Unlike electronics, reading shouldn’t stimulate you as much; it should make your eyes feel heavier and send you into a sleepy state. Try to avoid page turners or thrillers, as you want something that’s easy to read and relaxing, even something as simple as the nearest children’s book will help you wind down!

Share the load

One of the main reasons parents get sleep deprived is due to countless baby wake up calls, and for a lot of us once we’re up, we’re up! Unfortunately there’s no secret cure to this, other than taking it in turns to see to your crying baby. Ideally you should share the job out as much as possible during the day, even if it’s with your sister, grandma, or anyone trustworthy you can rope in. If you’re nursing, invest in a pump so your partner can sometimes feed your baby while you snooze through the night.

Eliminate stress

Granted, this is easier said than done, but a big part of being a parent of a new born baby is stress. While the baby sleeps, hop in a big bubble bath (together if you will fit!), light some candles and just lie there with some peaceful music on. Another good idea is to organise yourselves, by writing down everything you need done for the next day, such as sterilising bottles, to avoid stressing about forgetting something or having a last-minute panic.

Enjoy some exercise

Although it may seem impossible to squeeze any exercise into your already packed schedule, exercise can really help to improve your mood and relax you, and above all, improve your sleep. Even something as simple but realistic as power walking with your baby in the pram or doing a quick (and muted!) exercise DVD while they’re sleeping will help you drift off when it comes to bedtime. Although, try not to exercise too close to bedtime as it may have the opposite effect and keep you awake – a late afternoon session is ideal.

Keep your bedroom peaceful

As a new parent you may feel like your life is upside down; baby clothes blanketing your bed, toys on every surface. But having an untidy bedroom may distract you and prevent you from drifting off. Before bed have a quick tidy around so when you lie in bed all you see is a calm environment, even if you just throw it all in a big basket for sorting the next day. Try filling your bedroom with soothing smells like fresh flowers or a relaxing aromatherapy spray. Also, it is important to only associate sleep and relaxation with your bedroom. If you work or study in bed, then stop. You will subconsciously associate your bedroom with less relaxing activities if you use it is a place to work, making it far more difficult to fall asleep.

Avoid caffeine after 4pm

An endless stream of tea or coffee sometimes seems essential to keep you ploughing through the day as a new parent, but caffeine might be a false saviour. Caffeine is a stimulant that affects the heart and central nervous system by raising blood pressure and exciting hormones, so try to opt for herbal teas where you can, limiting your caffeine intake to around 200 mg per day. There are so many caffeine free beverages available, so aim to drink this from 4pm to help you sleep soundly at night. Alcohol is also a stimulant and though you may think it helps you unwind, you will not sleep as well as you might and probably won't be as perky the next day.

Say YES to help

As a new parent, obviously you want to bond with your child by spending as much time together as possible. But it’s false economy if you set out to manage everything by yourself, as you’ll be left with no energy to enjoy the fun stuff. It’s not a failing if you accept help from friends or family – it’s smart, and you will reap the benefits. Allowing loved ones to take over now and then will allow you to catch up on sleep. Even if you use the time to do some housework, it will be one more thing off your mind, which will help you drift off at night.

Stick to a routine

Just as you want your baby to stick to a routine, as a new parent you should abide by one as well. As parents, we put much consideration into the best sleeping routine for our babies, so doesn’t it make sense to do the same for yourselves? Setting out a routine, including a ‘wind down’ routine of a bath, reading, and other relaxing activities, allows your body to set an internal clock. This should allow you to fall asleep and wake at a similar time each day, helping you fall into effective sleeping habits. Try to stick to it at weekends as well so as not to confuse your body.

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