Surviving Sleepless Nights as a New Mum

tired mum on sofa with baby

Sleep deprivation in those first few weeks and months of having a newborn is challenging. Each baby is different, and each night is different, but most parents will experience sleepless nights at some point. 

I remember vividly how relentless the sleepless nights can be, and I would often feel as though I was the only one in the world awake during the night feeds! Some nights I really had no idea how I was going to keep my eyes open. 

Here are some ways to help you handle the nights when your eyes are burning and you’re wondering whether you’ll ever sleep again! 

Eat Well

When you’re absolutely exhausted, the last thing you want to do is stand and cook a meal! 

Eating a balanced diet will help to keep your energy levels up. Snacking on food like raw vegetables and fruits is a better alternative to those sweet snacks or processed foods and is just as easy to grab and go! If and when you have time to cook a meal, making extra portions that can be frozen and then reheated is a great idea. 

If veggies aren’t your thing, foods like boiled eggs, wholegrain toast, and nuts can help to sustain your energy levels for longer periods. 

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Stay Hydrated 

It’s easy to want to drink coffee to help wake you up, but too much caffeine can have a negative effect. While coffee and energy drinks can boost your energy short term, long term, they could disrupt your sleeping patterns further. Staying hydrated is super important - ensure you’re drinking plenty of fluids, ideally six to eight glasses of water per day. 

Ask For Help 

If you are fortunate enough to have the help and support from your partner, friends, and family, make sure to reach out and ask for help if and when you need it. Sleep is not a luxury; it is a medical requirement! So don’t feel guilty for bringing in those around you to lean on and ask for extra help to support you through these tougher moments. 

Sleep When Your Baby Sleeps

I know this sounds so cliche, and it’s SO much easier said than done.

Try to rest as much as you can when your baby is sleeping. As tempting as tackling your never-ending to-do list may be, rest is more important. 

If you’re like me and feel as though you simply cannot rest the whole time your baby naps - you could always set an alarm which will stop you from sleeping for too long! According to the National Sleep Foundation, just 20-30 is all it takes to experience benefits such as improved alertness and a better mood. 

Pay Close Attention to Your Baby’s Sleep Cues

Newborns show cues or signs of tiredness before they need to sleep. Look out for things like yawning, rubbing eyes, frowning, snuggling in, fussiness etc. When you start to notice signs that your little one is tired, put them down for a nap or bedtime. 

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Develop a Bedtime Routine

Although sleeping schedules are always up in the air with a newborn, establishing a good bedtime routine will help both you and your baby long-term. Here are some helpful nighttime “rituals” ideas that will encourage your baby to wind down after a long day:

  • Set a start time for your bedtime routine and try to stick to this time as much as possible. Although it might not be possible some days, getting into the habit of starting wind-down time will be beneficial in the long run. 
  • Dimmer lights and reducing noise stimuli a couple of hours before bed will help your baby to associate less noise and darkness with nighttime and bedtime. 
  • Breastfeed or formula-feed your baby close to bedtime (around an hour) so they go to sleep with a full tummy, making them less likely to wake from hunger as they grow. 
  • Give your baby a warm bath before bed. And a soothing baby massage before redressing your baby can help to relax them, making it easier for them to fall asleep. 

Get Help if You’re Struggling With Your Mental Health

It is really important to be aware of your general mental health. Although you will inevitably end up experiencing sleepless nights, which will leave you feeling tired - having trouble sleeping (insomnia) and feeling tired all of the time can also be signs of postnatal depression. 

If these symptoms are coupled with low mood, crying a lot, and feelings of hopelessness, it is worth reaching out to a health professional (your GP, Health Visitor, or Midwife) to ask for advice as soon as possible. 

Noticing you’re struggling and asking for help is the bravest thing you can do.

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