A New Mother's Sleep Survival Guide

Most new mothers find getting adequate sleep to be a challenge. Getting up constantly is disruptive to quality sleep and you're not alone if you're feeling exhausted and irritable. This survival guide will help you get more quality sleep and offer some coping strategies to make the temporary sleep loss easier to bear.

Getting More Quality Sleep:

1. Understand your sleep cycles. The quality of sleep is more important than the number of hours you get. Most people need 90 minutes to 2 hours of uninterrupted slumber to enter into a restorative deep sleep. New moms need methods to provide adequate rest when they're frequently getting up to care for their babies.

2. Use naps to supplement your nighttime sleep. Until your baby sleeps through the night, naps can help you survive. Take a nap when your child falls asleep during the day. Feeding your baby before a nap may help you both sleep longer.

3. Enlist your partner's help. Even if you're breastfeeding, your partner can take a turn with night feeding if you pump and refrigerate your milk. You can also get more rest if your partner brings the baby to you at night for breastfeeding so you don't have to walk around as much.

4. Seek out additional support. The first weeks are often the most demanding, so think ahead to arrange the support you'll need. Your parents or other loved ones may be able to move in temporarily or you may be able to exchange mutual assistance with other parents in your neighborhood. If your budget permits, consider hiring a temporary nurse.

5. Ask someone else to cover the first nighttime feeding. Having someone else do the first nighttime feeding is a great way to get some hours of unbroken sleep. Even if you take over later in the night, you'll have gotten some much-needed rest.

6. Work towards a consistent schedule. Rest assured that this is temporary and look forward to getting back on a regular sleep schedule. You and your family will rest better when you have regular bedtimes.

Coping Strategies for Temporary Sleep Loss:

1. Meditate. Meditation provides some of the same benefits as sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep or there's no time for a nap, try some quiet deep breathing.

2. Eat a healthy diet. You can improve your sleep by avoiding excessive caffeine or alcohol. Drink lots of water because dehydration can be tiring. A balanced diet will also help provide the energy you need.

3. Do gentle exercises. If your doctor says it's safe to exercise, a gentle workout may help you sleep better. You can find resources online or at your local library.

4. Take a shower. A simple shower may help you feel refreshed fast. A few minutes under the shower and a change of clothes can help you feel more awake.

5. Reduce other potential sources of stress. As a new mom, you have a lot going on in your life, so try to minimize any additional stress. Older children may be able to pitch in with more household chores. Postpone any big decisions until you can think more clearly.

6. Talk with your doctor. Sleep deprivation can have serious effects on anybody, and new mothers are already dealing with many hormonal changes. Consult your doctor if you need help managing all the changes. Your doctor can give you recommendations to keep you and your family happy and healthy.

Being a new mother is a joyful and enriching experience. Work at getting the quality sleep you need and look forward to many happy years with your new baby.

8 Simple Tips to Sleep Like a Baby

If you have trouble getting a good night's sleep, you're not alone. In the US, it's estimated that between 50-70 million adults aren't getting enough sleep. Some degree of insomnia is reported in as many as 30% of all adults.

Sleep is vital to both your health and happiness. How happy are you when you've had to pull an all-nighter for school, work, or even as part of your social life?

Consider these 8 tips to get the most out of your sleep:

1. Set a sleep schedule and stick to it. Our bodies adapt very quickly to our sleeping habits. Notice that if you stay up late and eat, your digestion tends to run amuck.
  • Most people require 7-8 hours of sleep to function optimally.
  • Your body is much more efficient at sleeping and preparing for sleep if you can maintain a schedule.

2. Keep your bedroom cool. Your body temperature drops as you near bedtime and is at its lowest during sleep. If the room is too warm, your body won't be able to cool down.
  • Sleep quality is improved in a cool sleeping environment.
  • You'll have to play around with the temperature to find what's ideal for you.

3. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can help you fall asleep, but sleep quality is compromised. It has been shown that sleep is less restful and you'll wake up more often during the night, even if you don't remember it. For some reason, the negative effects of alcohol are more pronounced in women.

4. Darken the room. Even the light from your alarm clock can compromise the quality of your sleep.
  • Remove as much artificial light from your sleeping environment as possible.
  • Turn off the computer screen and minimize any ambient light coming from outside the room.

5. Sleep the most beneficial amount of time. Studies have shown that sleeping more than 9 hours or less than 6 hours is associated with feelings of anxiety and sadness.

  • If you find you need more than 9 hours and can't sleep more than 6, a visit to your physician is advised.
  • Even one night of low quality or quantity sleep is associated with insulin resistance, a major cause of type-2 diabetes. Those that sleep less than 6 hours are also far more likely to develop high blood pressure.

6. Ensure you get enough vitamin B6, calcium and magnesium. Vitamin B6 is needed to synthesize melatonin, which is vital to sleep. Calcium deficiency has been shown to increase the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. Magnesium intake is associated with the ability to stay asleep.

7. How's your mattress? Even the highest quality mattress has lost as much as 75% of its support after 10 years.

  • You probably spend more time sleeping than you do on any other single activity. Be certain you have a good mattress.
  • Consider how much you spent on your car and how many hours you use it. Purchase the best mattress you can afford.

8. Try not to exercise within 3 hours of your bedtime. Exercise is great for increasing the quality of sleep and decreasing the amount of time required to fall asleep. However, studies have shown that 3 hours is the cutoff point to prevent exercising from decreasing sleep quality.

Sleep is an important part of maintaining health and enjoying life. If you'd enjoy sleeping more like a baby, keep these tips in mind. Maintain a regular sleeping schedule and ensure that your sleeping environment supports peaceful sleep.

The Busy Parent's Guide to Helping Your Child Wind Down

Helping your child to fall asleep and stay asleep is a challenge for most parents. Every child is different so it requires some flexibility to find the patterns that will work for your family. Experiment with a combination of these techniques as you put together your own formula for success.

Steps to Take During the Day
  1. Seek out natural light. Even though we're surrounded with electric lights, our bodies are still attuned to the sun. Open the curtains to give your child exposure to morning light and spend at least a half hour outdoors during each day.
  2. Engage in physical activity. Regular exercise promotes restful sleep at any age. Encourage sports, games, and playtime. Ride bikes or throw a ball around in the backyard.
  3. Maintain a sensible schedule. It's harder to come to a complete stop when you've been rushing around all day. Pace yourselves. Regular eating patterns will also reduce the demand for nighttime snacks.
  4. Take naps. Evening hours may be the only time working parents can spend with their kids. Dozing in the afternoon can compensate for slightly later bedtimes.
  5. Reduce environmental irritants. Chemicals and allergens often interfere with sleep. Select natural bedding and sleep wear. Clear away dust and pet dander.

Steps to Take at Night

  1. Set a consistent bedtime. Aim to have your child go to bed and rise at the same time every day. Stick to a similar schedule on weekends and holidays.
  2. Provide advance notice. Older children will understand a warning that it's 10 minutes until lights out. Babies start responding to cues like running bath water and putting on pajamas.
  3. Turn off the TV. Artificial light stimulates our brains. Give your kids a curfew to turn off all devices a couple of hours before bed.
  4. Read bedtime stories. Story time creates a great transition for sleep and a lot of happy memories. It will also instill a love for learning.
  5. Develop other bedtime rituals. Warm baths and soft music add up to a soothing atmosphere. Throw in a teddy bear or stuffed bunny for overnight company.
  6. Play white noise. Any monotonous sound hastens sleep. Turn on a fan or play a recording of the ocean.
  7. Warm up. Warmth is also conducive to happy dreams. Give your child flannel sheets to snuggle in. Bedroom temperatures of about 70 degrees with 50% humidity are usually ideal.

Steps Especially Designed For Babies

  1. Swaddle them. Sleep sacks and tightly wrapped blankets comfort babies. Make it snug enough to hold their arms and legs still.
  2. Massage them. Gentle touching puts your baby at ease and draws you closer together. Take a class or watch a video for instructions.
  3. Burp them. When babies cry, they swallow air. Gas builds up and makes them cry more. A soft thump on the back will break the cycle.
  4. Move them. Even adults tend to doze off more easily when they're riding in a car. Help recreate the motion in the womb for your baby by rocking them in your arms or in a chair. If you put them on top of a running dryer, be sure to hold them in place.
  5. See your doctor. Your doctor can check for medical causes if your baby wakes up frequently and shows signs of distress. Two common issues are allergies and a condition called gastroesophageal reflux that is like heartburn. Otherwise, most sleep disturbances are natural and will pass in time.
Get your child off to an early start with good sleep habits and a positive attitude about bedtime. Your whole family will enjoy better rest and better health.

The Secret to Staying Calm with Your Child

Staying calm protects your relationship with your child and helps you to deal with challenging situations. Still, it can be difficult to keep your cool around the clock. That’s especially true when you face additional pressures such as school closings and job loss.

As a parent, how can you remain poised when your child throws a tantrum at the supermarket? How about when they start hanging out with a crowd who look like they’re auditioning for their own reality show?

You can make your family life more peaceful and cooperative. Try these tips for parents who want to stay calm.

Prevention Strategies for Staying Calm:
  1. Consider the reasons. Do you assume that your child is trying to undermine you? In reality, they may be too young to think through any complicated actions. Even older children may be more preoccupied with dealing with their own issues rather than opposing you.
  2. Make rules. Many standoffs can be avoided by setting ground rules in advance. For example, agree to a family technology contract instead of arguing about phone calls during each meal.
  3. Remove temptations. Try to childproof your surroundings. Put fragile items out of reach. Lock the liquor cabinet.
  4. Supply distractions. Be realistic about young attention spans. Run errands on your own or in the early morning when stores are less crowded. Bring toys and videos along for long car rides.
  5. Step away. Take a break if you feel like you’re becoming frustrated. Breathe deeply or go for a walk around the block. You’ll be less likely to say something you may regret.

Communication Strategies for Staying Calm:
  1. Lower your voice. Your child is more likely to listen if you speak softly. Be firm but kind.
  2. Validate and empathize. Try to see the situation from your child’s perspective even when you disagree. Let them know that you care about their feelings.
  3. Keep it simple. Use language that your child can understand. Stick to one message at a time.
  4. Focus on teaching. Discipline is more about instruction than correction. Ask yourself what you want your child to learn.
  5. Repeat yourself. Be prepared to go over the same material many times. Repetition helps small children to feel secure and master new tasks.
  6. Encourage cooperation. Work as a team. Ask your child to assist you and present them with choices. Tell them you appreciate their setting the table when you have to work late.
  7. Laugh. Humor can lighten things up. It’s okay to use your children for entertainment as long as you guide them towards becoming responsible adults.
  8. Offer praise. Notice the things your children do well. Express your gratitude. Tell them that you’re proud of them for studying hard and sharing their toys with their baby brother.

Other Strategies for Staying Calm:
  1. Build bonds. It will be easier to handle mishaps if you have a strong and close relationship. Spend time with your kids one-on-one and as a family. Share their interests and pay attention to what they have to say.
  2. Practice self-care. You’ll also feel more stable when you eat healthy, work out, and sleep well. Ensure that your children are getting adequate sleep too.
  3. Seek professional help. A family therapist can provide additional coping strategies if you’re struggling with staying calm. Ask your doctor or trusted friends for referrals.
Your kids will still lose their backpacks and share embarrassing information with your neighbors. However, skillful planning and communication can minimize conflicts and help you to collaborate with your child during stressful times. Parenting is easier and more effective when you can stay calm.