True or False: If you have a newborn, you’ll lose about 400 hours of sleep this year.
An hour here, an hour there—it really adds up over the course of a year. The good news is that it’s only temporary.
For the few first months of life, a newborn baby sleeps most of the time, but they wake frequently which makes it hard for parents to get more than a few hours rest at a time. Parents of newborns often lose about one to two hours of sleep per night until their baby is five months old, but the majority of babies will start sleeping through those ‘middle of the night’ hours at about three months of age.
When you’re living with sleep deprivation, however, a few months can seem an eternity. And it might only take a week or two of interrupted sleep to make you feel very tired, impatient, disoriented, or stressed.
Looking after yourself means taking a few precautions and establishing your priorities to deal with an unpredictable sleep routine:
- Think about taking regular naps. Even 20 minutes can make a big difference to restoring your energy and concentration. A nap, however, is only as good as the ‘quiet’ you set up around you. That means no phone, no laptop, no TV. Whenever possible, take a nap while your baby is sleeping too.
- When you wake up in the morning, try not to tap the snooze button. Instead, sit up as soon as the alarm goes off. Keep a glass of water by your bed and have a few sips before you stand up. If possible, have a shower right away.
- Parents of young children are under a lot of pressure to “do it all” but with a newborn, that’s not really possible. You might not be very good at asking for help, but like your child, you can take baby steps: if a friend or family member offers to do something, say yes.
- Around the home, focus on the necessities for those first few months and don’t worry about a messy living room or a garden that needs weeding. It’s more important to get a bit of extra sleep instead.
- Given everything else on your list, it’s hard to imagine you’ll have time for exercise but even a small amount of physical activity will give you much more in return. Just make sure not to do strenuous exercise right before bedtime, since it can boost your energy and keep you awake later than you planned.