Why New Moms Don’t Sleep Enough

It’s the universal lament of new parents, and what everyone tells you about having a new baby. “Get your sleep now!” “Hope you’re ready for 18 years of no sleep!” blah, blah, blah. You get less sleep with a new baby, and it’s pretty much unavoidable (unless you have overnight help). However, in my years of working with new moms, I’ve noticed a few things that seem to exacerbate the problem. Here are the Top 7 reasons I’ve found to be most common for why new parents don’t get enough sleep, and some tips for how to overcome these challenges.

1) Stress – there is A LOT to think about with a new baby, whether it’s your first or you’re adding another member to your family. Worries, concerns, and stress get your body pumping cortisol, which is not conducive to sleep.

Spend some time before bed focusing on things you used to enjoy – read a book, watch a TV show you love, talk to your spouse or call a friend – focus on something pleasant and positive and try to take your mind off of focusing on all of your worries and stresses.

(NOTE: if your anxieties are causing insomnia, or you can’t ever shut them off, call your doctor – it could be some postpartum anxiety disorder or postpartum depression).

2) Trying to stick to old schedule – Before the baby came, you were up at 6 every morning, making breakfast and heading to the gym before work. On weekends, maybe you slept in til 7. You also stay up late, sometimes turning in at 11 pm or midnight. With a new baby, 8 hours in bed is NOT 8 hours asleep. You’re waking up for feedings, and diaper changings, and listening to her sounds, and making sure he’s breathing. You’re lucky if you get 4 hours in that stretch of time. Yet you still feel like a lazy bum if you stay in bed until 9 am, or a lame-o if you go to bed at 9 pm.

Stop it right now! There is NO SHAME in going to bed early or sleeping in later. Where do you gotta be? The baby doesn’t care if you’re lying in bed vs. sitting on the couch – in fact, she loves the cuddles in bed! If you have older kiddos, it’s totally fine to get back into bed after you put them on the school bus. Yawning on the couch at 8 pm? Go to bed! Unless you have this next problem…

3) Too tired to go to bed – this is one I suffer from. You’re exhausted, but you’re still in your clothes and it seems like so much WORK to change into pj’s, brush your teeth, and get under the covers, so you just sit here and Facebook on your phone until you doze off, fully clothed. You may be doing that right now while reading this post, even.

FORCE YOURSELF to get up, get changed, and get under the covers. I give myself a little countdown and when I get to 3, I have to get up. I’ve tricked myself into always doing this. {Shhh… don’t tell Tired Devon that it’s ok not to get up.} Ready? 1….2….3!

4) Housework priorities – The laundry is not going to rise up and attack you in your sleep. It will still be there, I’m sorry to say, in all of its mountainous glory in the morning.

Don’t waste your valuable sleeping time on tasks you can do during the day while wearing a baby, or ask your visitors to do. Or, hire a postpartum doula and you won’t have to think about it at all!

5) Doesn’t nap – Let’s face it – you’d need at least 12 hours in bed to get 8 hours of sleep with a newborn around. Naps are ESSENTIAL. I know how it is, once you’re up and dressed it’s much harder to get back into bed and nap, but if you have someone to help with the baby especially – it’s totally worth TRYING to nap. Leave your phone or tablet out in the other room and just get under the covers and close your eyes. I promise it’s worth it.

7) Googly eyes at baby – Your baby is really cute. SO cute. Maybe the cutest, most wonderful baby who’s ever been born. Watching her sleep is one of the eternal delights of parenthood, and now with video monitors you can even watch them in their own rooms!

STOP IT RIGHT NOW AND GO TO BED. She will still be there, just as cute, in the morning. Go to sleep and dream about her.

What did you find kept you up when your baby was little?