Sleep Cycles for Mom and New Baby
Tips to Get More Rest
The first few weeks of your newborn’s life, your best bet is simply to follow the schedule that your hormones have set for you and your baby: sleep when your baby sleeps, day or night. You won’t get a continuous eight hours of sleep, but every little bit helps. “Daytime naps can partially compensate for nighttime sleep loss,” assures Dr. Griffin.
Throughout the early weeks, try to maintain good sleep habits; that practice will help you get back into a normal sleep pattern later on. Sleep-promoting steps you can take include:
- Go to bed at a regular time every night.
- Avoid alcohol and anything high in caffeine, sugar, and salt.
- Exercise regularly, but don’t work out within three hours of bedtime.
- Eat a light snack (but not a full meal) before bedtime. If your snack includes dairy products, you’ll get a dose of the natural sleep-promoting substance tryptophan.
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature.
If you have problems falling asleep, get out of bed. Go into another darkened room and pick up a quiet activity – but don’t fall asleep in that room. When you feel drowsy, go back to bed. “It should only take 15 minutes or so to fall asleep,” says Dr. Griffin. “If it takes longer, it’s a signal to go to a physician or seek a sleep specialist.”
When your baby begins to sleep for longer stretches at night, you can start to reset your sleeping pattern. Have the baby’s dad take over nighttime feeding, or hire a baby nurse for night duty if possible. Cut out daytime naps to build up “sleep pressure” and continue to follow your good bedtime and sleep habits. Then, you’ll be able to enjoy the view of your sweet, slumbering child before you head off to bed for a good night’s rest.
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