Hello my lovelies, I hope you are all staying safe during these unprecedented times. Are you thinking I am going to share my secret sleeping hacks with you? Well, you are right. The winter season is fast approaching us. The skies are getting darker and the evening is among us earlier every night. The clocks have gone back by an hour which to anyone is a dream come true because it means an extra hour in bed, but to new-born parents, it is their worst nightmare because it simply means that our beloved darlings are only going to wake us up an hour earlier.
I have saved you the wasted time scouring through parenting books and pointless websites with the ten best sleeping hacks to try. As a mum who has been there and done that I completely understand the struggles, you may be facing right now. Are you running on zero energy? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Then, please read on. However, I feel like I must warn you that this post is NOT about how to get your newborn to sleep through the night as I am afraid most of us have to learn to cope, but these are a few sleeping hacks that I have found to work for me which is why I am sharing them with you. We have to stick together.
1. Adjust your Expectations
As I have mentioned before your baby will not sleep through the night – it is very rare if they do. Why you may ask? It is because your baby needs feeding every two-three hours. Their tiny stomachs aren’t supposed to sleep through the night, Their brains are developing and growing at a very fast rate and need the constant nourishing that you provide with milk. So, it is really important that you prioritise your sleeping pattern to match theirs, especially if it a role that your partner can’t share.
This is why I always advise to sleep when your bubba sleeps. Although they wake up very frequently during the night, new born babies cram in lots of sleeps during the day – so sleep when they do! Turn off any distractions and forget about the house chores. During this stage, sleep must be your top priority. I know it must feel like chaos when there is so much to do to maintain your house, but trust me I would rather have a messy house for a little while than be constantly surviving on as little sleep as possible. Just remember that this stage doesn’t last forever and by the time a baby is three months they can sleep for at least five hours at a time. By six months, longer sleeps of 9- 12 hours is possible.
2. Atmosphere is key Sleeping Hacks
Try to keep your baby alert and active during the daytime and create a calmer atmosphere in the evening. In my opinion, I found that switching to lower lighting, using ‘indoor’ voices, and reducing background noise such as the TV to a minimal really helped as it established the difference between day and nighttime routines which in turn extend the periods my child slept through the night. This technique does take practice, so please don’t expect the results to work overnight. It took me around a month and a half to get this tip to fully work its magic. The daytime activities that I loved using were sensory toys as not only does it get your baby to learn as they play, but they seem to tire them out quickly as they have to use more body parts.
3. Feed-in turns
Share the nighttime wake-up calls. This may be harder to do when you are breastfeeding, but trust me mummies your partner can still do some of the work. Suggest to your partner that they can help out by bringing your baby to you for feeding or if bottle feeding takes it in turns. When I was breastfeeding I got my hubby to handle the nappy changes. At first, I felt bad because I knew he was the sole provider for our household and he would have long days at work, so disturbing his sleep was never part of my plan. However, with a newborn, it does become too much so you need to be able to rely on them for simple things like that as it will make a difference later on.
4. Separate beds for separate sleep
Don’t be tempted to keep baby in bed with you after feeds. It’s is absolutely fine to bring
your baby into your bed for feeding- but it is really important that they are returned to their cot when you are ready to go back to sleep. It may seem like the easier option in the short term as you know your baby will be awake again in a few hours, but this can create a problem in the longer run. My friend ignored this piece of advice I gave her when she had her newborn a few years ago– what a rookie mistake and you will never guess what? She had to pay for it. Her daughter slept in the same bed as her up until the age of four as she was terrified of sleeping in her own bed as she wasn’t used to it and didn’t want to be separated.
5. Prioritising when you need help
Now if you take anything away from this blog post it needs to be this. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When family or friends visit during the first few weeks, cast the usual pleasantries aside and ask if they would mind watching your wee one while you grab a quick nap or shower. They will understand and hopefully be happy to help. On the other hand, learn to accept help. Don’t be tempted to prove you can manage especially if you have a close group of family and friends who are offering their services. I will be honest I struggled to come to terms with this because my whole life I have been independent. I was used to doing things myself and never admitting defeat, but I slowly realized that I am not looking after myself anymore. This is another life that I have to care for so including your closest circle in that journey does make all the difference.
6. Clear your surroundings
Another Sleeping hack is to Remove all electronic distractions (the TV/laptop/mobile phone) from the bedroom and ideally avoid screen time an hour before bed. In addition, don’t get too worried about falling asleep immediately. If you are not dozing off in a reasonable amount of time, get up and do something simple until you feel sleepy. Then try going back to bed.
Also, I know this is a given but I would try to avoid caffeine. There have been numerous studies to prove that having caffeine within six hours of bed had a significant distruptive effect on sleep. I used to use alternatives such as decaf coffees, green tea or a small square of chocolate was much better if I really needed the extra energy boost.
When this happened to me I always had the habit of sorting out the small things that would later make a difference the next day, for example, sorting out the washing into piles which made a huge impact as I could just throw that pile in the washing machine without spending over ten minutes sorting the colors or another alternative could be clearing up the toys in the living room. I know I was going to use them the next day, but having a tidy living room simply satisfied me. Doing the chores that you would usually do before having your baby can be helpful in tiring you out, as long as it is not hoovering!
7. Prepare for sleep
Now I can understand what you are thinking? How on earth are you meant to prepare for sleep when you barely get enough as it is. Caring for a newborn can leave you so exhausted that you expect to fall asleep like someone has knocked a brick over your head, but that may not always be the case. As a newborn mum, we need to make sure we can pack in as much sleep as our baby lets us. I learned that If you keep your bedroom cool by opening a window, quiet, and as clutter-free, as you can make it then it helps. Your body adapts to the surroundings you put yourself in.
Usually an hour before bed I would try to do a relaxation exercise to get my baby brain to switch off for twenty minutes. I suggest to close your eyes and picture your favorite place to visit. How does it look? What makes it so memorable? How does it smell? What were you doing when you visited that place?
8. Invest in yourself
These sleeping hacks have to be my favorite and took a lot of convincing my hubby but invest in a new bed with a suitable mattress that you find comfy. It’s more important than ever to make sure your bed is comfortable and supportive to help you aid the restful sleep, whenever you manage to take it, and if your bed is old then it can only make matters worse.
9. Monitor how you behave
Calling all new mummies, Please watch your hormones. Sleep deprivation can lead to mood changes at a time when hormones are already in overdrive which in turn, can lead to the ‘baby blues’. Postnatal depression can affect women in different ways. Signs include not being able to bond with your baby, a persistent feeling of sadness and low moods, a lack of energy and an ongoing problem with sleep which I can understand may be hard to detect with a restful newborn.
So, if you have any concerns about mood levels or a real on-going problem consult your doctor or GP. Identifying and treating any underlying health conditions can help you get the rest you need. Making sure you get a good level of sleep – even if it is more broken than usual will help you take the best care of your baby.
10. The length of the nap (Important Sleeping Hacks)
Another Sleeping Hacks that seemed to go well and a few sleep coaches have recommended to others in the past is letting your baby sleep for an extra 15 minutes when they are tired. Not two babies are the same, but roughly a newborn will need three to five naps a day whereas a baby aged between four to six months would only need two to three naps a day.
A newborn will usually sleep between 17 hours in a 24-hour period, a good bit of it during the day, especially in the early months.
It is key that you develop a napping schedule right away that for your sleepy little one that works with your breastfeeding. As long as your baby is getting the correct amount of sleep per day, then there is no need to worry about the lengths of the naps. For a newborn I would usually make sure that your baby is awake at least for up to an hour between naps and then extend it by 30 mins every two to three months.
When my little one was super tired because she was restless the night before I would just let her sleep for an extra 15 minutes. I must warn I am no professional, but for me personally it made no difference to her sleeping schedule. It also worked in my favour if I was out for a coffee catch up with a friend, as I need the extra time to just get home.
I really hope these Sleeping Hacks are able to help you as you navigate your journey through parenthood. I must say there is never any right or wrong tricks to help your baby get the best sleep, but these are what I found to have helped the most. If you are looking for advice I always recommend asking friends and family of their experiences or looking online at some women who have had troubles developing a nighttime routine.
See you soon! Tempany Grace