It can be very disappointing to parents when they, themselves are still waking frequently at night, even after their baby starts sleeping through the night.
Your body need time to adjust and settle back to its former sleeping habits. If however you had sleep problems before your baby arrived it is most likely that your previous sleep problems will reappear or continue.
Lack of sleep affects every aspect of our life and how we function. When we get enough sleep we tend to be happier and less anxious, our memory works better and we perform job related duties better. Fatigue related accidents and fatalities is a serious world wide problem.
Adults need an average of 8 hours sleep a night. Some get by with 7 hours and others love and need 9-10 hours. Those who get less than 7 hours are almost always sleep deprived. They are the washed-out looking ones, feeling blank and dull and constantly in a drowsy state.
If your tasks are keeping you up way past bedtime prioritise and schedule the less important tasks for tomorrow another day. Delegate tasks to the rest of your household: older children may even be happy to take on tasks for some pocket money.
If naps revive you then make time for regular naps to fit in with your child’s schedule. Breast feeding mums often find taking naps easier because of the hormones secreted during breast-feeding that makes them sleepy. Take care that naps don’t interfere with your night -time sleep if you overdo it.
If you usually have trouble falling asleep or have an irregular sleep/wake cycle naps may not be the solution for you.
Give yourself a bedtime routine too, to signal your own body and brain that it’s time for sleep. Take a not too hot shower or bath before bedtime, do a bit of reading for 15-30min (preferably not screen reading) while you have a cup of chamomile or put lavender oil in your diffuser to calm you down.
Keep to a regular schedule for going to bed and getting up, even on weekends. You can’t catch up on lost sleep.
Avoid caffeine if it over stimulates you. Alcohol makes you sleepy at first but can cause wakefulness later during the night. Sleep professionals caution that any substance that affects the nervous system is likely to have an effect on our sleep. Nicotine, a stimulant drug is an example. Even though you’re not a smoker, other people’s secondary smoke may make it hard for you to get to sleep. Here’s a biggie: avoid screen time 1-2hours before bed and keep the lights dimmed.
Anxiety and depression can affect sleep in two ways. In a depressed or anxious state we may find it hard to fall asleep or we may wake up in the early hours of the morning unable to go back to sleep. The anxious person is sleep deprived and exhausted during the day and their anxiety increases about not getting enough sleep. It turns into a vicious cycle. If you have physical or emotional problems that are interfering with your sleep talk to your doctor for the right referrals.
The take home message is that parents have to be kind to themselves in order to be the best parents they can be!