Sleep Tips for New Moms

As you might remember, I struggled quite a lot with sleep after Quinn was born. Of course, I had the usual sleepless nights like many new moms, but it wasn’t until many months later that I finally figured out what I needed to do to calm my mind and help me sleep better. And I’m not alone. Did you know according to a Sleep Number survey, 54% of Americans don’t feel they’re getting enough sleep?

Looking back on those early months with Quinn, I now realize there were a number of things I could have done differently to improve my sleep habits, so I wanted to share them with the new moms out there. If you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks (maybe months), I hope you find these tips helpful.

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Sleep when your baby sleeps

When Quinn was first born, I wanted to punch people in the face when I heard them say “sleep when your baby sleeps.” I mean, I had emails to reply to, blog posts to write, dishes to clean, laundry to fold… I didn’t have time to sleep! But looking back, I now realize these things could have waited, and I should have just slept. **sigh** Live and learn. But, seriously, new moms: Don’t worry about everything that needs to get done. It’ll get done. Take care of yourself and sleep… when your baby sleeps. Being as well-rested as possible will benefit both you and your little one in so many ways.

Communicate with your partner

Your husband might be the most amazing guy in the whole wide world, but he can’t read your mind. Don’t assume he knows what you need or want. Don’t beat around the bush. Be direct and TELL HIM. Caring for a newborn baby is hard, especially when you’re sleep-deprived, so tell your partner exactly what you need and want, even if it’s as simple as bathing the baby while you nap. I promise if you communicate openly with one another, it will make those exhausting newborn days a little easier.

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Know when to say ‘yes’ to help

When Quinn was first born, I really thought I could do it all: Breastfeeding, diaper changes, midnight feedings, working from home, cooking, cleaning… . And I did do it all for awhile… until I crashed and burned and almost ended up in the hospital. After that, I learned that I needed to say ‘yes’ to help. Mal started doing nighttime feedings and family members watched Quinn so I could sleep, which made a huge difference when it came to caring for a newborn and myself.

Go to bed EARLY

I’m the queen of early bedtimes. Even now, if I’m feeling especially tired, I’ll still climb into bed as soon as Quinn goes to sleep. I just know how I get when I’m sleep-deprived (i.e. irritable, anxious, negative about everything), so I make sleep a priority in this way. When Quinn was a newborn, I’d go to bed as soon as he was asleep, even if it was 5:00 PM and still daylight outside. It might have seemed like a weird time to go to bed, but those extra hours were important to my health.

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Don’t go crazy with the caffeine

I’m a huge fan of caffeine (and iced coffee, obviously), but when Quinn was first born, I cut back so I could better sleep. As a newborn, Quinn was on his own schedule, which meant I never knew when I’d be able to sleep. I didn’t want to be hopped-up on caffeine when I had the chance to sleep, so I switched to decaf.

Get in the right state of mind

I struggled so much with getting into the right state of mind to fall asleep. My mind was always running and, no matter what I did, I couldn’t quiet it. It wasn’t until months later that I finally figured out how to sleep better. From someone who’s tossed and turned all night long for weeks at a time, I strongly recommend getting yourself into the right state of mind to encourage quality sleep. For me, it was quieting my brain, but, for you, it might be taking a bath, reading, sipping hot tea (or just holding it), or doing some gentle yoga before bed. Do whatever you need to do to prepare yourself to sleep. It’s such an important part of the process.

Realize the sleepless nights won’t last forever

When I was breastfeeding Quinn every few hours as a newborn, it seemed like I might never sleep again. I was totally exhausted and couldn’t think clearly, but family and friends assured me those sleepless nights wouldn’t last forever. Eventually, Quinn started to sleep for longer stretches of time, and, before I knew it, he was sleeping through the night. Of course, at the time, it was tough getting to each of these milestones, but, looking back, they actually happened pretty fast. It’s true what they say: The days are long, but the years are short. So, new moms, hang in there. You won’t be a zombie forever. Your little one will sleep soundly through the night and so will you!

When you struggle with sleep, you’ll do practically anything for a good night’s rest, which is why I’m proud to partner with Sleep Number® on this post because they are more than just a company who makes mattresses. They create sleep experiences by offering high-quality products and services. For instance, all of their Sleep Number® beds offer SleepIQ® technology, which gives you the knowledge to adjust for your best sleep.

The results that you get from SleepIQ® technology includes personal data about restful time in bed, goal time in bed, average heart and breathing rates, and movement and time out of bed. The data helps identify routines and factors that affect sleep and you can also monitor things like caffeine intake, diet, exercise, television, media usage and medications. SleepIQ® technology couldn’t be easier to use– there’s nothing to wear, nothing to turn on– all you have to do is sleep.

Question of the Day

Moms, what advice would you add?

This post is sponsored by Sleep Number. As always, thanks for your support! 

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37 Comments

  1. I am such a cranky pants when I don’t get enough sleep. I can’t imagine what it’s like having a newborn and not getting quality sleep for so long. On another note, I can’t believe how small Quinn is in these pics!

  2. These are good tips! I also wish that I listened to the advice to sleep when the baby sleeps. Another thing that helped me get more sleep was throwing out my idea of an acceptable time to get out of bed in the morning. I felt like I had to get up by 8 or 9 at the latest, because I felt like I had to be a normal human being. (Why??) When I gave that up and would stay in bed til 10,11, or 12 (after nursing when the baby would go back to sleep) I felt much better!

  3. My advice would be make your bedroom a sanctuary – NO TV! No electronics, clean, no kids stuff, make your bed everyday. So when you crawl into bed it’s a comforting place.

    We bought a temperpedic bed few years ago I thought this is where it’s at! It’s going to be amazing! It’s not it’s awful! I hate it! I ache all the time. So we are saving for a good mattress!!! Maybe we’ll look at sleep number.

  4. Oh my goodness, tiny Quinn! I definitely agree with the tip about telling your partner exactly what you need or if they’re doing anything specifically that drives you crazy 😉 Unless you tell them, they won’t know! We’re currently going through the 4 month regression after him being such a good sleeper so it is ROUGH at our house right now. Fingers crossed we get out of it soon.

  5. What a great post, looking back I wish I had slept more when my little guy slept. But instead I kept drinking caffeine and doing whatever I could around the house while he slept. There are so many things I plan to do different if we have a second child…granted if the second child is sleeping what do you do if the first child is awake? Gah! Can you have a second and report back so I know what to do? 😉 jk

    I don’t have any new advice to add but I want to reiterate the importance of being open and up front with your partner. No one is a mind reader and if you want or need something you have to say it. I would get so mad at my husband because he wouldn’t SEE how much I was doing or SEE how tired I was or SEE when I needed help with something. I would let these things build up inside and just explode at him, poor guy. But we’ve almost made it through the first year, yippee!

    The first birthday party is a celebration for the parents too, right!? LOL I’m certainly going to celebrate surviving the first year!

  6. my advice is just SLEEP WHEN YOU CAN! i felt like i had to get everything done with william was a newborn, plus he was up at least every two hours and i was struggling. dishes, laundry, etc can wait… sleep is more important and enlist those around you to help!!

  7. Just a thought to maybe use the word “partner” instead of “husband” – not all people have a husband! My future wife and I can’t wait to have babies 🙂

  8. I’ve never been able to nap. And when I had my son I still couldn’t do it no matter how hard I tried. So when my little man did nap, I’d read or just lay in my bed or on the couch to at least have some rest time. My son is now 2 and we’re lucky if he takes a nap.. but we do the same thing. Only now we’ll lay in my bed and I’ll read while he plays with a few toys so we have our time together, but we’re still getting some downtime.

  9. Nothing new to add, but I definitely wish I had also taken the “sleep when the baby sleeps” advice. I thought I needed to clean the house, do the laundry, make food, etc. In retrospect, it all could have (and should have) waited. Easier said than done, but it would’ve made things quite a bit better.

  10. When you were pregnant did you also switch to decaf, drink less of regular coffee or completely omit it from your daily routine? I miss my morning coffee, but have pretty much cut it out, just wanted to see what you and others did.

  11. Thanks so much for posting this! While I feel like I’m starting to figure things out as a new mom to my now two-month old baby girl…every time I feel like we’re in a pattern, the pattern changes! It’s always nice to hear other moms stories and advice to know I’m not doing everything totally wrong! Quinn is adorable!

  12. These tips couldn’t have come at a better time, my husband and I are expecting in March and I’ve been loving reading about others moms journeys and soaking up all their tips, so THANK YOU! I’m a bear without sleep as well, so it was reassuring to hear others that have the same issue didn’t totally lose their marbles 🙂

  13. Do you have a sleep number bed? Curious how you like it. As a mom of two, my best advice is that nap time is ‘me time’. I don’t fold laundry, wash dishes, etc. it is time strictly for me to recharge however I want. All the household chores can be done at another time.

  14. Awesome tips. I’m in the trenches of sleepless nights right now with my 5 month old 🙂 Do you remember when did you started to see longer stretches of sleep from Q, and did you do anything to help encourage good sleeping habits or did it happen on its own? I can’t remember if you posted anything about trying any type of “sleep training”. Thanks in advance!

  15. I don’t have kids, but all of my older siblings do, and I totally agree with not saying “no” to help. Granted, some people take far too much advantage of the help they’re given, but in a normal situation, your family/friends probably want to see your baby so badly that it’s okay to say yes to having them come over and hang out for a bit. I always wanted to see my nieces and nephews when I could, and I wouldn’t mind at all if my siblings told me they were going to take a nap while I hung out with the baby.

  16. Hi Tina! Quinn is so cute! I love reading your posts about him. I have a 14 month old who still has a hard time sleeping, so you can only imagine how sleep deprived I am! Just wondering if you sleep trained him, or if he just started sleeping through the night on his own?

  17. My first 3 kids were champion sleepers, my youngest is 18 months and has yet to sleep longer than 4 hours at a time. My husband and I take turns getting up with her, but it’s still ridiculous and hard and every night I hope it’s THE night that she sleeps all night 😉

  18. “Sleep when your baby sleeps” only works the first time! Haha people still said that to me after I had #2. Soooo me and the baby sleep and my toddler runs amuck through the house?? They do grow so fast!!! My #2 started walking today. Bittersweet for sure!

  19. I wish I had know about essential oils when I was a new mom. I have had wonderful experiences using oils with my children in order to relax, take away nightime fear, and smooth into a long night of sleep. I use them myself for sleep when Imm running the grocery list, weekend errands, emails through my mind.

  20. I don’t have any kids, but I suffered from insomnia for a couple years, so I know how hard it is! It actually makes me really nervous for if/when we have children, because I know how hard it is to zombie your way through. I can’t wait to buy a nicer bed, but it’s definitely going to be awhile before that happens.

  21. When my twins were born (child 2 & 3 for us) was the most sleep-deprived I’ve ever thought possible. Our house slowly got more & more gross as I chose sleep over cleaning. Thankfully they both slept at the same time from the get-go! Then by the time baby #4 came along I had mastered the art of impromptu naps & early bedtimes!

  22. I wish my 11 month old slept through the night, I never thought I’d be in this aituation, am seriously considering a sleep consultant! To all mums whose babies sleep through the night, be grateful!

  23. I had such a tough time napping when Hannah napped. My mother in law would even come over to watch Hannah so I could sleep and I’d end up staring at the ceiling thinking of all the things I “should” be doing instead. I’m not any better about it now but at least I’ve started to go to bed earlier.

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