Okay, so practically EVERYONE you met during your pregnancy told you how sleep deprived you would be once your bring the baby home. Even so, when the whole baby-feeding-and-changing schedule starts, it hits you hard. You might not get more than 2-3 hours of continuous sleep. But what is worse is the knowledge that your days and nights in the foreseeable future will remain like this! Honestly, the real solution to sleep deprivation is sleeping, and there is nothing you can do to replace sleep.
So here we have compiled a list of 10 tips that we hope will help you cope with your lack of sleep.
In addition, we understand it is not easy to stay alert and focused and care for your child and family when you are always sleepy and tired. So we also give you five tips that will help you stay awake and alert.
We are not done yet! One of the major side effects of sleep deprivation is that you are always grumpy and moody. So we have gone ahead and given you some tips to be less grumpy too!
How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?
The general rule states that an adult needs at least 8 hours of continuous, undisturbed sleep. However, this is not a benchmark, and if you are walking tired and exhausted after 8 hours of sleep, you probably need a few more hours.
What Are The Side Effects Of Lack Of Sleep?
As a matter of fact, the longest a human can survive without sleeping is just 11 days. As new parents, it is not going to be so extreme that you are not getting even a few hours of sleep everyday, but not having continuous stretches of sleep can have adverse effects on the health of the parents, especially the mother. Lack of sleep can cause lower concentration levels, lack of energy, and may affect your decision making abilities. Headaches, dizziness, hand tremors, muscle and body pains, increased blood pressure, irritability and mood swings are some other side effects of lack of sleep. Sometimes, lack of sleep can cause one to hallucinate and induces memory lapses. Again, if you tend to eat more when tired and irritated, you may put on additional weight, while eating less may cause you to lose weight. As we know that our body does most of the repair work when we sleep, lack of sleep can greatly impact our body’s defense mechanism making recovery a longer process.
So here we go with:
10 Tips To Help You Cope With Sleep Deprivation After Delivery
- Sleep when your baby sleeps: This is the best advice we can give you. Most of us know this. But we end up doing household chores, catching up with friends and family on phone or cleaning the now-always-messy house when baby falls asleep. Don’t. Let your house be dirty. Let there be piled up laundry basket. All these are important works, but not urgent works. The only thing you must do well is taking care of the baby. And if you are too tired, drowsy and grumpy to take care of the baby when he/she wakes up, then there is no point doing anything else. So take rest and nap whenever baby is napping. Everything else can wait till you feel well rested
- Outsource and delegate: It is fun to have others call you a super mom who does everything. But it is definitely not fun being a supermom. There is no need to do it all yourself. Decide, if possible even before the baby comes, which one of your ‘pre-baby’ responsibilities you wouldn’t be able to take up ‘post-baby’. Delegate these tasks to people around you or hire someone to do some of it
- Say no to extra work: Do not take up additional responsibilities when you have a newborn. Whether it is running a new errand for your house or volunteering to do something for your neighbor or initiating a new project in office – don’t commit to it. If you have an elder child try to occupy him elsewhere instead of taking him to his friend’s house for a play date, You have your hands full and no one will (or should) expect a newborn’s mom to take up extra work
- Ask for help: Don’t be too proud to ask for help, from your partner, parents, parents-in-laws, and friends. Most people close to you want to help you, but probably have no clue what to do. You could get your friends babysit your older child, you could ask your mom or mother-in-law’s help to run the kitchen and you could get your partner to do most of the legwork you used to do. You are not a super human, and you should not try to be one
- Don’t be over anxious about baby’s crying: Most moms become super-light sleepers because they feel if they go into a deep slumber, they will not hear the baby cry. Relax. Even if your baby cries for a few minutes before you hear him, it is alright. If you are too concerned, invest in a baby monitor that will help you hear the sounds your baby makes from the crib better
- Practice relaxation exercises: A bit of meditation and yoga will not only calm your nerves and make you less grumpy, it will help you take control of your day better. Put on soothing music and lower the brightness of lights/lamps. Relax by using paranayama techniques, and take things lightly
- Catch few short naps: Remember that even a 20-30 minutes nap will refresh you. If someone else is engaging your baby for half an hour, don’t shy away from catching a nap. This is the closest you can get to stealing some moments of rest, and unless it does not interfere with the baby’s feeding schedule
- Watch what you eat: Do not eat too much in the night. If you like milk, try drinking a glassful of warm milk in the night. Do not eat very spicy or very sweet food. Stay away from fried foods and too much sweets as they can make you feel lethargic and lazy. Skip that cup of coffee for the temporary open eye ad opt for healthier and refreshing fruit juices. Have fresh fruits and vegetables, drink up a lot of water and stay healthy
- Help the baby establish a sleep routine: No, it will not happen instantly, but with due course of time, your baby can be put to sleep for the whole night. We know you do not believe this, so these few tips to help your baby establish a good sleep routine will be useful and facilitate him/her to sleep through the night
- Remember it is temporary: This is the best of all! Lift your spirits with the belief that this is only a temporary phase. Very soon your baby will start sleeping though the night, or at least 6-8 hours at a stretch. And that is your prize for all this hard work
5 Tips to Stay Alert And Focused When You Lack Sleep
Sleep deprivation can hit new mothers very hard, and add to that all the physical discomforts that they are going through. Though staying alert and focused after childbirth would be the last thing on your mind, it is actually imperative because the baby and the house depends on you. Below pointers can be helpful:
- Stay awake after your alarm beeps: You might be too tired to wake up when the alarm rings and would want to go back to sleep for ‘just 5 more minutes.’ Chances are 5 will become 10 and then 15 and before you know it, you have missed the schedule you have put together for your day. This will lead to pure madness in the house for the first couple of hours. So it is very important you wake up when you planned to. Keep a bottle of water next to your bed and the moment you snooze the alarm, drink few sips of water. Immediately get up and brush your teeth and splash some water on your face to kick start the day
- Get some exercise: Before you think we are mad to suggest including exercise in your already crazy schedule, let us clarify. We are not suggesting an hour long routine (but if you can do that nothing like it!!). Stretch your body, do few heart pumping movements (like jumping jacks) that will get blood flowing. This will energize the body and keep you active throughout the day
- Organize and prioritize: How many ever tasks you have for the day, write them down in the order of priority. Make daily or weekly checklists. Tick them off when it is done. Even if it is just 1-2 items, write them down. It will keep you focused and motivated throughout the day
- Take breaks from work: If you have started going to office, then staying alert and focused becomes all the more important. Plan important meetings in the morning because you are fresher then. Take breaks when you are feeling lousy. Walk around, drink some water. While you might be tempted to load yourself with coffee, it might result in you staying up in the night
- Snack on foods full of energy and essential nutrients: Where-ever you are, home or office, make sure you eat healthy and energy-giving foods like banana, nuts and toast. Do not eat high sugar high fat food as it will only make you more tired after the initial high
3 Tips To Be Less Grumpy When Sleepy
Sleep deprivation can leave anyone grumpy and irritated. Hormones are also at play. Your body is physically weak and the baby wakes up before he sleeps. You stare at the ceiling wondering when your baby will need the feed or wail for a change. Whoa!! Before you lash out your post-partum depression at your husband or other family members, read the below tips:
- Deep breaths: Deep breathes before you speak – every time you are upset of angry. Make this the mantra to follow. You might be sleepy, tired, irritated and then you realize your partner has knocked over a milk bottle. Try to be as calm as possible. It is not easy, we know. You might think that not everyone is trying as hard as you to run the house, but they are probably doing their best. Understand this before snapping at anyone
- Choose your battles: You have to accept that everything cannot be done the way you want it to be. It is not worth your time and effort to fight with family members for not doing something the way you want it to be. Let it be. In few years, your child will be of manageable age and you can take back the control of your life and house. Till then, do not stress over a wet towel on bed or ironing all baby clothes
- Apologize: And despite all this, if you end up being grumpy or rude with someone, do not hesitate to apologize. Admit that you were too tired and were wrong to snap at the person. Most people understand the pressures a new mom goes through and would understand and forgive and peace would prevail