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Sleep Deprivation for New Parents

Tired parents looking into a crib

Sleep deprivation can bring on all kinds of problems affecting your mood, job performance, and your overall health. As a new parent, you are probably already familiar with the consequences of not getting the amount of sleep your body needs.

With your new baby waking up 2-3 times per night, you are also waking up to make sure your infant gets fed. Babies not only wake up frequently for nighttime feedings but they also have shorter sleep cycles than toddlers, children, and adults.

Your baby’s sleep pattern probably remains fairly consistent but newborns haven’t quite grasped the concept of being awake during the daytime and sleeping at night. He or she might take long naps during the day and wake up several times throughout the night when you wish you could be sleeping. Babies’ sleep patterns are formed from environmental factors as well as genetic factors that may be out of your control.

 

New Parents and Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is common among new parents everywhere. If you are a new parent and are feeling the consequences of not getting enough sleep, you know it can be detrimental to your health. Here are just a few of the negative effects you might feel from your lack of sleep:

  • Daytime sleepiness and fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Mood swings
  • Poor job performance

If your lack of sleep becomes a long-term problem it can cause even more serious problems such as putting you at greater risk for diabetes and heart disease.[1]

But the good news for new parents who are losing out on sleep is, your baby will grow and develop a more regular sleep cycle.

By the time your baby reaches 3 months of age, he or she will generally sleep a little longer, with a sleep cycle lasting 4-5 hours.[2] While that is good news, that does not change the fact that you are missing out on sleep right now. So what are you as a new parent to do?

Here are some tips for getting some sleep as a new parent:

  • Put the crib or bassinet next to your bed. This can help make feeding and diaper changing quick and easy in the middle of the night so you can get back to sleep.
  • Take advantage of any help you may have. Friends and family that are nearby can come in handy to help out so you can get in a nap.
  • Put off other, less important tasks like certain household chores. When the baby is napping it can be easy as a new parent to “want to get things done.” Consider putting off some of these tasks until you are able to catch up on a little bit of sleep.
  • Share nighttime feedings with your partner, if possible.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene by avoiding caffeine late in the day, avoiding electronics before bedtime, and try sticking to the same bedtime each night as best as you can.
  • Track your baby’s sleep to get a good idea of how much sleep your baby is getting and to point out any consistencies or inconsistencies in his or her sleep routine.

 

Why Track Your Baby’s Sleep?

Sleep tracking for a baby may be a missing piece to your plan on getting more sleep as a new parent. Many people are not aware of how baby sleep tracking can actually help you.

By keeping track of when and how long your baby sleeps, you can get a good idea of how much he or she is sleeping altogether, the length of the naps, when your baby is getting the most sleep, and also help you point out any inconsistencies in his or her sleep routine.

Once you determine your baby’s sleep schedule, you can use that information to plan your own day and you will also be aware of when you can plan on waking up. If you are able to anticipate your baby’s needs and behaviors, you will be able to plan accordingly and create your own routines.

Having a thorough record of your baby’s sleep habits will also allow you to have information on record so you can share any concerns with the pediatrician.

 

How to Track Your Baby’s Sleep

One way to record the sleep patterns of your baby is writing it down the old fashioned way, with pen and paper. You should be keeping a record of:

  • All naps: the time of the naps and the length.
  • Details about your bedtime routine and how long it takes.
  • How often your baby wakes up at night and for how long.
  • What time he or she wakes up in the morning.

 

Sleep Tracking Technology

 

Since being a new parent can feel overwhelming, keeping a journal by tracking all of this information may seem like it just adds more work. If this is the case for you, you may want to consider some help.

There are several apps for Smartphones that have been developed that allow you a place to track this information with some guidance on what to track and reminders for you to track information. Some of them keep your logged information organized for you and even offer charts or graphs to give you an overall view on your baby’s habits. A few of them offer some “extras,” like white noise and sounds to help your baby sleep.

Other devices on the market can offer additional help compared to Smartphone apps. There are now devices that come with a baby monitor so you can see any movement, and sensors that you attach to your baby used to track sleep cycles.

Lumi by Pampers takes it another step further and offers a system that includes a baby monitor, sensors, and also a Smartphone app. This system not only tracks sleep, but also keeps track of enviornmental factors in the room that may be interfering with your baby’s sleep. It can even sense wet diapers and keep track of diaper changes. You can find out more about this system here.

 

[1]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2845795/#:~:text=In%20brief%2C%20recent%20studies%20suggest,the%20increased%20risk%20of%20CHD.

[2]https://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/S_T/Sleep-0-3-months#:~:text=Most%20wake%202%20to%203,to%205%20hours)%20at%20night.

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