Did you know new parents will get just four hours and 44 minutes of sleep on an average night during the first year of their baby’s life?
If you have learned anything about a baby’s sleeping pattern, it’s probably that it doesn’t coincide with yours.
Babies have different sleep cycles than adults. Not only are their sleep cycles much shorter but they also spend less time in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (dream sleep). This makes for some very noisy sleeping and much shorter stretches of sleep for baby and you.
Babies are born with an underdeveloped circadian rhythm which oftentimes results in having their days and nights mixed up. This day-night confusion can last up to eight weeks.
What does this mean for you?
Studies show adults need seven to nine consecutive hours of sleep a night. When a family brings home their newborn both parents are losing out on about half of their sleep. This can be very challenging for the mother who is recovering from birth and for both parents as they adjust to the new family dynamics.
Chronic sleep deprivation affects your body and mind in many different ways including your mental health, critical thinking, balance, and coordination and can negatively impact the ability to make short term and long-term memories.
How to protect your sleep and health.
Nap when you can. If the opportunity to nap presents itself, do it. If you have a trusted family member or friend that can swing by and hold your newborn so you can catch some Z’s we say invite them over. If you can sleep when baby is sleeping, we say do it.
Trade off on night duties. If you are doing all the nursing, if your partner is able, they can take over the diaper changes, burping, swaddling and soothing back to sleep. If you are bottle feeding, you can split the nights in half – each taking shifts.
Hire an overnight doula. Sometimes referred to as a night nurse or night nanny. The benefit here is that overnight doulas are trained to support the whole family. Omaha Birth & Babies Omaha doula are more than a night time nanny. We are not only specially trained to help you maximize sleep while caring for your baby but are certified to:
- Help you understand & learn normal newborn sleep patterns
- Establish day & night rhythm & healthy sleep habits
- Understand sleep cues
- Establish an age-appropriate bed-time routine
- Sort through sleep theories & find the one that works best for your family
- Achieve both optimal sleep & your breastfeeding goals
- Support your postpartum recovery
- Set up a safe nursery that is conducive to sleep
- Ease those 2 am concerns by answering any questions you might have
Sleep deprivation does not have to be rite of passage for you as new parents. Your mental and physical health matters just as much as the mental and physical health of your newborn.