5 Tips for Surviving Sleep Deprivation as a New Parent

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I thought of entitling this, “tips for surviving sleep deprivation with a newborn” but for most parents, sleep deprivation lasts much longer than the first 6 weeks of bringing baby home. While I’m only 4 months into being a new parent, here are a few things that have helped me “keep on swimming” with little sleep.

1. Limit guests in those early days of bringing home baby.  In the first two weeks, it’s likely that your baby will sleep long stretches during the day and sleep short stretches at night. If you have a non-stop flow of guests during the daytime, you’ll never get to lie down, rest, or get things done while baby is sleeping. I think if we have a second child, I’ll invite people to come over in the evening to see the baby! 🙂 With our baby, there were several times in those first two weeks when she slept 5+ hours during the daytime while company was over. We could have used that time to sleep ourselves.

2. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t “sleep when baby sleeps”. It was only in those early days that our baby slept longer than an hour at a time for naps. I did lie down and rest at least once a day during that time period. Even if I didn’t fall asleep, I found lying down with my eyes closed made a difference. But then around a month, our girl’s naps began to be 30-60 minutes in length. I’d find that by the time she fell asleep and I was able to go to the bathroom/eat some food/etc she’d be starting to wake up again. I had to stop feeling like a failure if I didn’t sleep when she slept. Sometimes, it’s just not possible to “sleep when baby sleeps” or what you want to do and that’s okay.

3. As an introvert (who needs alone time to recharge my batteries), the following has been so helpful for me. I give myself liberty to use baby’s first nap of the morning as “me time.” This tends to look like: a big cup of coffee, reading blogs or writing a blog post, etc. She tends to go down for a nap within 2 hrs of being up for the day. No matter how tired I am when I first get up with her, I know that there’s an end in sight. She WILL nap and I will get my coffee and me time. Even if it’s brief, utilizing her first nap this way makes a difference in my mood and the rest of my day. And I don’t feel guilty for not getting housecleaning or other tasks done during that first nap.

4. These days, when I get up for the day, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. I can’t believe how awful I feel. This is especially surprising to me as a morning person who used to feel my best upon waking for the day. What’s been helpful is reminding myself that I’ll feel better in 30+ minutes time. And it’s true. As I get up and going, I feel better.

5. Remind yourself that this phase will pass. You are in the trenches of sleep deprivation and you will climb out, eventually. Be especially good to yourself. Extend a lot of grace to you and your partner. You are surviving a challenging time in parenting. And you can and will do it. Please, take it day by day. Don’t get caught up thinking, “I can’t do this for a week!” etc. Instead think, “what can I do to get through today?”

If you have any tips to add, please leave a comment. Big hugs to those struggling with child induced sleep deprivation at this time! As Dory from Finding Nemo says, “Just Keep Swimming!” 🙂

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