When it comes to how to deal with postpartum sleep deprivation, chances are, that you may have been told by both doctors and the elderly members of your close family about the golden rule which goes: You should rest when the baby rests.
If yes, maybe you’re being told the same every now-and-then and it annoys you – which is fair. If not, that’s okay.
Either way, the fact is that you need to step back a little and put in deliberate effort to understand a few things about the golden rule, and look at it objectively. Only then will you know fully how to deal with postpartum sleep deprivation – effectively.
In this article:
- Freeze Your Sleeping Hours
- Know that Not Everything is In Your Control
- Sleep Whenever Your Child Sleeps
- Look at Your Day Differently
- Re-Wire Your Thinking
- Be Aware of Stress Due to Sleep Deprivation
- Tips to Deal with Postpartum Sleep Deprivation
1. Freeze Your Sleeping Hours
First things first, decide on how much time you need to sleep every 24 hours. Is it 6 hours, is it 8 hours or is it some other number? It’s your body and only you know it best. It has to be some number but it has to be only one number. So just freeze the number.
2. Know that Not Everything is In Your Control
Before bringing your little one into this world, you used to get your sleep sometime probably during the 10 hour window between 10 am and 8 am. For example, may be you used to get your 7.5 hours sleep between 11 am and 6.30 am or 12 am and 7.30 am.
Now though, you of course don’t have control on your baby’s sleep pattern, especially during the first 10 to 16 weeks. After all, your little one doesn’t even know the distinction between night and day! Having said, there are ways to help newborns sleep through the night.
You need to remember, however, that there are things within your control. This is where the solution takes shape and that’s why it is possible to deal with your challenge on hand – sleep deprivation!
3. Sleep Whenever Your Child Sleeps
Whenever your baby is sleeping, the least you should do is rest along with your child and the most you can do is sleep with your little one. This is so critical that it can’t be emphasised enough!
May be you are not feeling sleepy when your child is sleeping, but you can choose to at least close your eyes and just rest with your baby. If you area able to sleep, that’s great. But otherwise, you need to rest, and rest well.
Yes it not easy. But ‘not easy’ also means that it’s not ‘not possible’. So for the sake of your child, if not for anyone, you should take short naps with your baby. Even if you take a nap for 15 minutes, let alone 30 minutes, it can make you feel much better after the nap.
You know it now. But knowing is not doing. So take action!
Why You Should Be Close To Your Baby?
There are certain common reasons why babies cry when they wake up from sleep. In case your little one gets disturbed suddenly for some reason one gets to know that you’re not close by, it may result in unwanted anxious moments for both of you. That’s why you need to be close to your baby for most of the time.
Being close also makes your little one feel re-assured, and will therefore calm down quickly after any disturbance and soon go back to sleep. Most of all, just the fact that you were never away from your little one all through his/her sleep gives you a sense of peace and calm too.
4. Look at Your Day Differently
Things can look simple and easy, if only you can just to start looking at things from a different perspective. For instance, if your morning used to start at around 7 am before you became a mom, now, you have to shift that time to 10 am or 12 am. That is all it takes.
Yes, the 7 or 8 hours of sleep that you will get is only aggregated sleep and not the sleep you get in one stretch. But you should remember that it is only for the first 8 or 12 weeks, after which things will settle down. Remember: This phase is temporary.
5. Re-Wire Your Thinking
Once you start sleeping whenever your child sleeps, by 12 noon every day, you would’ve got your daily quota of sleep. Having got your required sleep, you just need to tell yourself, “I have got my 8 hours’ daily quota of sleep. I feel fresh and light now.”
Once your mind registers the words, you will not only feel fresh and comfortable, you will be ready to take charge for the next 24 hours!
6. Be Aware of the Stress Due to Sleep Deprivation
Sometimes, taking care of your baby can indeed become very stressful – both physically and emotionally. The fact is, even if someone other than the baby’s mother were to take care of a child around the clock for days and weeks together, they can get stressed physically and emotionally too.
Your stress could be so intense that you may forget yourself. You may even forget the need for you to take care of yourself well, so that you can take care of your child well.
There may be times when you may not find time to go even to the wash room, eat something what you like, or even to dress up in a presentable manner. During moments like these, it becomes critical that you don’t look at yourself like a victim of the circumstances you are in.
Why? Well, as already discussed before, t h i s p h a s e i s t e m p o r a r y!
7. Tips to Deal with Postpartum Sleep Deprivation
- For 3 to 4 hours during the day, make a conscious decision to keep your mobile phone in silent mode with notifications off.
- Dim or switch off the lights during your nap time. If need be, replace your window screens with a darker fabric. If you’re unable to do either, use a soft black colour eye shade.
- When it is time for your nap, let the visitors be entertained by other members of your family. Yes, it is important that guests or visitors need to be attended to and entertained, but not at the cost of your or your little one’s well-being.
- Even if a close friend or family member of yours needs your time, tell them it’s time for your nap and ask them if they can be kind enough to wait. Since they’re your loved ones/well-wishers, you will find them heed to your request.
- Cut down (not necessarily eliminate) your consumption of caffine.
- Eliminate packaged foods, sugary snacks and oily foods.
- Eat whatever you like, as long as they are fresh and home-cooked food or snacks. You don’t have to deprive yourself.
Never feel guilty because you’re unable to keep your house presentable or if you’re unable to give adequate time for your older child (if you have one). There’s no need to feel so, as this too is temporary and something every mother goes through. So it’s normal.
By learning and practicing how to deal with postpartum sleep deprivation, you are in fact preparing yourself to deal with the many other challenges that will come up during your child’s toddler phase.
That’s why you should never hesitate to take the support of your spouse, parents, siblings or other family member/s, including your house help if need be.
Always remember: If it is for you, it is up to you!
Disclaimer: The content in this page and across this website are for informational and educational purposes only. In case of any concerns about your child’s growth and development, please contact your professional child healthcare provider.