The CDC recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep per night in order to maintain good health. With a new baby in the house, this might seem nearly impossible. However, caring for a new baby and functioning in your daily life while sleep-deprived can be dangerous, not to mention uncomfortable.
A recent study by Sleep Junkie surveyed 500 US and 500 UK parents to better understand the sleep habits of new parents. They found that 68 percent of parents were able to get 7+ hours of sleep each night prior to the birth of their baby, but only 10 percent were able to hit that number after birth. This equates to a loss of 3 hours of sleep per night. After spending hours trying to get their baby to sleep, new parents have little time to sleep themselves.
So what can parents do to cope? Below we have outlined some practical tips may help provide some relief.
1. Timing Is Everything
The timing and scheduling of your day can go a long way in helping new parents find better rest. The suggestions below will help you get the most out of your sleep time.
Relaxation routine. Having a new baby in the house can be stressful, but stress can make it even harder to sleep. Experts suggest creating a relaxation routine to help you unwind before bed. Consider reading, practicing breathing exercises, taking a warm bath or shower, or journaling.
Meals. When our bodies are working at digestion, it can be difficult for us to relax. To prevent this, avoid eating any large meals 2 to 3 hours before bed.
Exercise. The endorphins released into your body during exercise can also make it difficult for you to relax. Experts suggest exercising at least 2 hours before bed.
Sleep when your baby sleeps. If you are the parent responsible for staying home with the baby during the day, it is a good idea for you to sleep when your baby sleeps. Don’t give in to the temptation to catch up on chores or work during this time. Even if you don’t feel sleepy, just closing your eyes and relaxing can be rejuvenating.
Screen Time. Darkness causes our brains to naturally produce a hormone called melatonin. This hormone produces a drowsy, sleepy effect that allows us to sleep. Too much light from electronic screens can stop the production of this hormone. Experts suggest reducing exposure to screens from phones, computers, and televisions at least 2 hours before bed. This will help you fall asleep faster and maximize every minute of your sleep time.
2. Adjust Your Bedroom
Making sure you and your partner have a relaxing bedroom to retire to will be important during earlier parenthood. Consider making some of the following adjustments to your sleep space:
Light. In addition to reducing screen time, you may also want to use a lower watt lightbulb in your bedroom. A bulb between 45 and 50 watts will create an ambient atmosphere, while also providing adequate light for reading.
Comfortable mattress. Sleeping on an unsupportive or broken-down mattress can make it hard to find adequate sleep. It may be time to replace it with a comfortable mattress if it has any rips or holes, is sagging, or if you or your partner typically wake with neck, back, or shoulder pain.
Temperature. Because our body temperature tends to drop when we sleep, experts suggest keeping your bedroom on the cooler side, somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees.
Reduce clutter. To keep your bedroom stress-free, it is best to remove