SLEEP: Why it’s Important and Tips for New Moms

If your a lucky mama your newborn will sleep through the night right away.  Most of us are not that lucky.  Both of my children never slept through the night until one year old!  Once I thought I was back on the road to 8 hours uninterrupted a night, I was thrown a curve ball, potty training.  Yes, the next stage is waking up to change bedding and dry up tears because of a dreadful night-time accident.

 

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Whys is getting enough sleep so important?

There are brain waves that are only accessed during deep sleep.  These waves trigger your body to produce essential hormones for a healthy body, such as, melatonin, growth hormones, sex hormones, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).*  Deep sleep also lets your brain restore neurotransmitters that allow cells of the body to communicate with each other and work efficiently.  The average adult needs 8 hours of quality sleep a day.  With out deep sleep you can experience symptoms of  depression, fatigue, irritability, loss of concentration, weight gain, inability to cope with stress, and a reduced immune system.*  Not great qualities to possess when caring for your little bundle of joy.
Probably, worst off are mothers who quickly go back to work.  They don’t get the option of napping with their little bundle during the day and may not have help when they go home in the evening. No rest during the day and being up half of the night is a recipe for disaster.  I experienced sleep deprivation big time after going back to work 6 weeks postpartum with my first child.  I could barely keep my head up at my desk.  I can remember one instance when I went home early because I thought if I didn’t get some sleep I would start hallucinating.

Tips for sneaking in those much needed ZZZZs

Take turns at night.  Follow your natural body rhythms.  Everyone wakes at some point during the night.  If one parent is more awake than the other let them tend to the baby.

Ask for help.  It couldn’t hurt to have a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or cousin come over for a few hours so you can take a little siesta.  If they need you they can always wake you up.  If money is not a huge issue, consider hiring a postpartum doula.  They are usually paid by the hour and make visits during the night too.
Some sources to find a doula:

 

Go to bed when they do.  A usual bedtime is around 8 p.m. for a baby, but it can vary.  That does seem pretty early, but sleep is more important now than staying up to watch your favorite t.v show, hanging out with hubby, or cleaning.

Nap when they nap.  If your lucky enough to be  home with your baby lie your head down to rest when they do.  Who knows when your next chance will be.  The cleaning can wait until your better rested.

Go on Walks.  While you may be exhausted getting quality sleep could still be a problem.  Anxieties about the baby, finances, or other pressures may keep you from falling asleep quickly and peacefully.  Aerobic exercise will help you fall asleep easier and improve your mood.

Use Aromatherapy.  A spritz of natural lavender oil or other essential oils on your pillow could do wonders  to help you relax.

Try Herbal Tea.  I’m a huge fan of Chamomile tea in the evenings.  There are also a great variety of bedtime teas with organic herbs like peppermint, spearmint, and rose hips that will get you in the mood for peaceful rest.  Be sure to check which herbs are safe if your breastfeeding.

Turn off the racket and on some calming sounds.  Prepare the house before nap time begins so you can take full advantage of it.  Turn off the televisions and radios.  Shut off your phone.  Make sure the dog will not bark.  Add some white noise in the babies room to block distracting noises that may wake him.  If you’d like, try some gentle sleep sounds like waves or the rain-forest to help you relax.  They make great apps for your tablet and phones so you can make your nap retreat anywhere in the house.

Don’t take on extra responsibility.  As if a new baby isn’t enough!  Now is not the time to over work and over stress yourself.  The baby will sense it and the tension will carry over onto him.  Don’t worry they won’t be a baby forever and you will be able to do the things you want eventually.   Enjoy the time bonding and snuggling with them because, after all, they wont be a baby forever 🙁

Everything happens so fast, it can be hard to realize it’s not just a baby being born, a mother is also being born.  To be able to take care of your baby properly you must make sure you take care of yourself. Remember, put the oxygen mask on your self first.  This can be hard with a family pulling you in many different directions.  The nanny. The cook. The maid. The driver. The accountant. The wife.  To name a few.   Make sure to get your much needed rest and everyone will benefit.

*Reference:  http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleeping.htm
**Reference:  http://pregnancy.familyeducation.com/adjusting-to-new-motherhood/lack-of-sleep/36630.html

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