Sleeping Tips For The Fatigued & Exhausted Parent

The first time we bring our children home from the hospital, many feelings can wash over us. Not only do our bodies feel much different from suddenly completely reversing the effects of the pregnancy, but our minds can feel quite fatigued. This, combined with the pure joy and excitement at having a new little one in the home can all combine into a strange, wonderful eerie, and cathartic experience. You can feel reborn and equally completely wrung out in equal measure here.

Then, the lack of sleep will hit you. Our poor babies are of course completely learning to be a new person, and so every small thing might make them cry or when the age arrives, for them to laugh. It’s your duty to ensure every single part of their existence is taken care of. What a privilege! But also, what an absolute task to contend with. When being kept up at night and seeing to feedings, nursing them back to sleep or enduring the crying for night after night, you may feel amazed at how many parents have managed to keep their sanity without so much of a wink of sleep for so long.

Believe it or not, there are ways to function with less than the ideal amount of sleep, and still be a great parent. We have a few tips and tricks to help you here:

Make Use Of Coffee

Coffee is the golden friend of any mother struggling with sleep. However, abusing this can lead to a problem you do not want. Drinking more than a few cups a day could be considered overkill, as could even drinking one cup a day. Scheduling your coffee consumption for when you really need it can have the most effect, and limit the effect of coffee having little to no positive benefit for you thanks to a resistance being built. Consider this to be your care package. It might be that one morning you’re particularly struggling with only three hours of sleep, or that you simply need a kickstart to your day to begin the morning school run. Coffee is your friend, but only if you respect it during this time.

Grab Sleep Where Possible

Of course, coffee is no substitute for sleep. Making an effort to grab sleep where possible can help you function a little more easily, and contribute to your long-term health. This might mean sleeping when your child is enjoying a nap or cutting into your recreation time to add a few hours to your schedule. Sleep debt is a real thing, and it can build up fast, negatively affecting your health in the long term. With the willingness to ration your sleep, you can keep on top of your requirements, and hopefully meet the feeling of being energized once more.

Take Time To Unwind

It’s important to know that sleep is often impacted by many different things. It could be that you’re simply overstimulating yourself before bed with an action movie and playing intense video games. If you can, substitute this activity with reading a book, something that can help your mind rest. Also, consider your electronics. Often monitors, phone screens, and many other devices will emit blue light, which can mess with your circadian rhythm as it suppresses your melanin. Using apps that apply an orange filter before your bedtime can help you avoid this, and gain hours of sleep where you may have previously been missing them.

Try & Live Healthily

It’s essential for us to try and live healthy lifestyles as parents. This means ensuring your diet is high in leafy green vegetables, that you try and limit your carbs, and get more healthy fats in your system. It’s also important to try and gain some exercise where you can, be that a home yoga session with an instructional video or simply committing to a bodyweight workout and stretch routine each day. Doing this will help wear you out which can contribute to a much more restful sleep at night. It can also help you get to sleep much faster, which of course contributes to your hours of rest.

Try Not To Worry

Of course, simply having a baby in the house will give you cause for worry. That’s the natural and default state of any parent. If we didn’t worry about our children, odds are we wouldn’t provide them with the necessary care they need to thrive and survive. However, over-worrying can be a real thing, as can a hypochondriac’s sense of how a baby might be experiencing their health. This is not something to be blamed for. After all, it’s better to be very observant than mildly observant.

However, it’s important to remember that many children’s odd behaviors or health patterns are simply part of them becoming a small person. For example, a cradle cap can be a worrying thing to see, with its flaky and dry irritations. However, often this is a very normal and commonly experienced phenomenon and clears up before the first birthday. There are many questions you might ask yourself that could be resolved with a simple treatment or more added insight. For example, questions such as ‘Why is it that my baby is losing hair?’ or ‘Is vomiting every meal normal?’ can be calmed with a quick online search on a reputable medical website or forum, or simply asking that question on a network parental discussion board.

However, none of this should, of course, try and settle your worry when there are issues that might be a little more in need of a medical solution. It’s important to know that regular midwife checks with your documented observances will catch many of these issues, but also never be afraid of heading to the pediatrician where necessary. With this willingness to settle your fears through education or observing your child correctly, you’ll notice that your initial parental worries will settle a little more, helping you rest and gain deep, long sleep each night.

Take Turns

Taking turns waking up to deal with your child's screaming is important. Never offset that burden onto one partner. It might be that you take certain hours for this. For example, if you’re a stay-at-home mother and your husband works, it might be that from 9-1 a.m. your husband is on duty to take care of any sleeping disturbances your child has. From then on, it’s your gig. This helps you both find time to rest for a relatively unbroken amount of time to stay energized for the next day.

Often, it can feel hard to sleep knowing that you might be woken at any moment. When that sense of responsibility is somewhat limited for the time being, you’ll have a much better time relaxing and taking that load off.

Deep Breathing

Getting to sleep is sometimes as difficult as finding time to sleep in the first place. Luckily, there are methods to help you do this. Deep breathing can slowly help you nod off, as it puts you in a state of meditative relaxation. It’s also something to anchor you and can be loud enough for you that it drowns out other sounds. Simply follow the format of breathing in for 4 seconds and exhaling until completely flat. Be sure to follow this slowly. While counting the time it takes for each breath can help you get settled, don’t worry about following this perfectly as it’s more of a guiding anchor than a strict routine. Before long you’ll find that this effort helps you feel a little more sleepy, and allows you to nod off correctly.

Don’t Overthink

One of the easiest methods of losing out on sleep is worrying about the sleep you’re losing. We all know that feeling of trying to ‘force’ ourselves to sleep. It’s not a pretty feeling. It’s not a happy sight. It can also spiral into more complicated sleeping issues if you’re not careful. For this reason, we’d recommend that you simply try and exercise good thought patterns before bed. It might be meditating for ten minutes to relax your mind. It might be purchasing an entirely new bedspread, as old sheets can often lead to poor sleep quality. It might be cuddling up with your partner and going to sleep on good terms, no matter how fatigued or combative you might have been at the dinner table.

In Summary

In summary, it can really pay to take care of your sleep pattern over time. Sleep hygiene and quality is a major part of living as a functional person, and you need to be a functional person to be a functioning parent. With the ability to take control of your mental processes, the ability to regulate your body before bed, your willingness to share responsibility, and making use of coffee where appropriate, you will find that the duties of a parent become that much more manageable from day today.

We wish you nothing but the best of luck and love in your experiences as a new parent.
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