As a parent, it may feel like you are constantly strained for time, your to-do lists keep growing, and what used to be simple household tasks are overwhelming. How could you possibly get enough sleep?
Parents know they need good sleep, but it’s much easier said than done. There are many articles and studies on how to get more sleep, but it really comes down to what works best for you and your family. The first step to getting better sleep as a parent is understanding why sleep is so important and the effects it can have on your body.
Benefits of sleep:
- Helps maintain healthy blood pressure, reduces inflammation
- Improves athletic performance
- Enhances memory, attention, and learning
- Makes it easier maintain a healthy weight
- Reduces stress and anxiety
Great! So now that you understand the benefits of sleep a bit better, how can you get more sleep?
For new parents especially, the first few months can be the hardest sleep-wise. The good news is that as baby changes and grows, your sleep schedule will too. Mayo Clinic has some helpful suggestions for new parents:
- Whenever baby sleeps, you sleep (nighttime and/or naptime).
- Don’t be shy — take friends and family up on watching the baby so that you can rest up, especially in the first few months.
- “Watchful waiting.” When baby is up in the middle of the night fussing or crying, it’s okay to wait a few minutes to see if they’ll go back to sleep on their own before jumping out of bed to check things out.
For any parent (or any person, for that matter), there are some general suggestions you can use to get better sleep:
- Avoid caffeine in the hours close to bedtime.
- Turn off any stimulating lights in bedroom (TV, hallway lights, etc.).
- If you feel anxious while trying to fall asleep, try to read, walk around, or do something else for a few minutes before trying to sleep again.
- Create a relaxing environment with a comfortable bed, room temperature, or relaxing scents like lavender or chamomile.
- Put the chores off until later; your sleep is more important to help you function.
With this information in hand, you might just be able to harness all the superhuman benefits of sleep wellness…or maybe you’ll just catch an extra 30 minutes of sleep. Baby steps aren’t just for your little one!