New Moms and Sleep
The first thing that comes to everyone’s mind when someone is close to her due date is “You are about to lose so much sleep!” That’s my first thought whenever my friends and family announce a pregnancy. As I was researching this topic I was immediately overwhelmed with results.
A quick Google search starting with “new mom sleep” is followed by -derivation, -deprivation symptoms, -problems, and of course -memes.
After laughing at these memes and thinking about everyone in my life who has to deal with this first hand, I decided to go straight to the source.
I asked some new and veteran moms the following questions about their current sleep.
- How much sleep did you get last night?
- Do you always sleep when your baby sleeps?
- If a genie could grant you anything to help you get more sleep what would that be?
One mom of four, ages ranging from 10 years to 2 months, stated she slept a total of 5 hours but with a wake period at the 3-hour mark so she could feed the little one. She does not always sleep when baby sleeps but she would if she did not have three other children to care for.
Another veteran mom of four, the youngest being 4 months, stated she gets a whopping 6 hours of sleep, which was out of the ordinary. She usually takes one 2-hour nap during the day when her baby is also taking a nap.
A brand-new mom who just got to take her 1-month-old twins home from the NICU said she tries to sleep when the little ones sleep; but since they are too small to nurse she has to spend that time pumping and getting bottles prepared.
All moms wished for more help or a second “me”.
I felt exhausted just listening to their answers! I found some tips and tricks for better sleep that come straight from a veteran mom who also happens to be a sleep professional. In the AASM article, Attention All Moms: Getting the Sleep You Need Will Improve Your Health and Well-Being, Dr. Susie Esther explains the importance of sleep and overall well-being when life throws you into the world of motherhood.
- Get out of bed at the same time each morning (little ones help to ensure that this will happen).
- Make your bedroom cool and comfortable.
- Don’t stay in bed and try to sleep. If, in 10-15 minutes, you are struggling to fall asleep, get up and move to another room and do something distracting, but not stimulating. Read or perhaps listen to soft music.
- Use the bedroom for sleep and sex. This is not the place to pay bills, watch TV, eat (except breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day), etc.
- Don’t clock-watch.
- Avoid alcohol near bedtime. Avoid caffeine after noon.
- Relax before bed. This means you allow yourself time to unwind. Just as you nurture little ones to help them unwind, you need time for this yourself.
Remember, you are modeling for your children. So, don’t feel guilty, you are just being an effective parent.1
Poor sleep has been shown to lead to a number of problems. Mothers who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have a depressed mood, attention and memory problems, excessive daytime sleepiness, more nighttime falls, and use more over-the-counter sleep aids, in addition to increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.1
While disrupted sleep is inevitable during the early years of your new human’s life, it is important for new moms to do all they can to improve their sleep quality.
As we near Mother’s Day think of all the moms in your life and grant them that wish they all want! Lend a hand so they can get some much-deserved sleep.
1 Esther, S. AASM article, Attention All Moms: Getting the Sleep You Need Will Improve Your Health and Well-Being. Tuesday, May 1, 2007; AASMnet.org