Your baby has arrived and all of the emotions are running high!  You spend hours just watching your baby as they drift in and out of sleep, feed them when they wake and cuddle them for as much as you can.  It feels like you can do anything…you are invincible!!!! You start to think to yourself “what was everyone talking about….this is easy! I got this!” You couldn’t imagine doing anything else during the day then – something changes!!!! Baby is now waking every couple of hours during the night and the thing called “sleep” is a distance memory.  A sleep debt is building up and your sleep tank is starting to run on empty. 

We live in a society where many of us boast about how we can get by on very little sleep. Sleep is seen as a waste of time and there is not enough time in the day to do everything one needs to do. We forget that sleep is a biological necessity.   Research and Gallup polls have shown that over 40% of people get less sleep, than is recommended.  

Sleep Deprivation or sometime called the “Dark Side” has a huge impact on BOTH parents. Sleep deprivation not only has an effect on Mom, but Dad also shares in the changes that are happening when your child is not sleeping. With all of the information out in the world regarding sleep and how to get more of it, there’s no wonder parents are feeling overwhelmed and do not know what to do.

When Sleep deprivation starts creeping in, many parents find it challenging to deal with everyday tasks when they have not had a good night’s sleep.  The term “Sleep Deprivation” becomes all too real and they find themselves not being able to handle situations that they normally could have. In my own Sleep Journey I finally realized that I could not do it alone and we needed to start implementing some changes. The “dark side” was becoming real to our family.  Most of us have received the advice of “sleep when the baby sleeps” but when many of us try and do this, our brain simply cannot shut off.  We end up thinking about how many other things we have to do before the baby wakes.  

Sleep deprivation can impact one’s cognitive function, mood, and relationships with family and friends and let’s not forget the big on…… our HEALTH!

Many studies show that moms whose babies have sleep problems are at greater risk for postpartum depression. As Dr. Marc Weisbluth says: Sleep is food for the brain.  We simply cannot function properly without it. In studies that have given parents advice in managing their baby’s sleep, results showed improved sleeping for the baby and maternal mood improved as well. 

When it comes to impacting cognitive functions sleep is the number one factor. How many of us have been so tired that you cannot think correctly?  Your reaction time is slowed down, you are not as alert, your memory is not what it used to be and those simple everyday tasks have become unmanageable. For many, they do not realize how sleep deprived they really are until something terrible happens. Studies are showing that cognitive performance of people who are sleep deprived was comparable to those who had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit.  

So what can we do?

Know your limit:  You simply cannot do it all.  Ask for help when you know that you are tired and things still need to be done.  For many of us, gone are those days when we had multiple family members living in the same house or even the same city that could help on a daily basis. Don’t be afraid to say “YES” to the offers from your friends and family about bringing over a meal, watching the baby while you have a nap. Sometimes doing just the basics is all that is needed until sleeping improves.  

Be mindful of your sleep:  You do not want your sleep tank to be running on empty.  Try to even rest when the baby is resting at last once a day.  Just as your little one has a bedtime…so should you.  Turn off the gadgets and stop the daily household chores at a certain time at night.  I know it is easier said than done, but if you can stick to it, you will thank yourself later. 

Having a healthy sleep hygiene: As the saying goes…”there is no time like the present”. Having a great sleep hygiene in place for when the baby arrives is important.  Make sure that the rooms are conducive to sleep and all safety measure are in place. Creating a sleeping routine can start very early and it will help build a great foundation when the sleeping patterns change.  Around 4 months of age you will see your baby’s sleep cycles change and they are now relying on their circadian rhythms to fall asleep. Once this happens you can start showing your baby how to develop their independent sleeping skills.

Take care of yourself:  Allow yourself to have some “me” time.  There are many different ideas of what this entails but find something that you enjoy doing at least once a day. Whether it be talking on the phone with a friend for a few minutes, gazing out the window from your favorite chair and doing absolutely nothing or even going out for a walk for a few minutes can boost your mood and have dramatic effects.  Don’t forget about yourself because if you do, as I can attest to – your health will suffer.  I am the perfect example of how forgetting to take care of yourself can lead to health issues.  Don’t feel bad for making you one of the priorities!!! Your entire family will thank you!

We are so passionate about helping other families. Please visit our website to learn how we can help give your family the sleep you need.  www.babesandbeyond.com