Sleep Strategies for Exhausted Parents

The best time to figure to figure out how and when you are going to get some sleep with a newborn baby is before the baby is actually born. Hopefully you’re reading this while baby is still on the way. But, even if your baby has already come and is already treating you to sleepless nights, you still have time to adjust your habits to prevent yourself from becoming exhausted.

Here are a couple of basic, virtually unchangeable facts:

  1. Your baby can’t sleep through the night, and won’t be able to until she is at least 4 months old, usually longer. That’s because she needs to eat every two to four hours.
  2. You are going to need to adjust to your baby’s patterns over the first few months. In time, you will be able to train him to adjust to yours, but he won’t be capable of that for several months.

So, given the facts that baby is simply not going to sleep through the night right away (in fact, call a doctor immediately if she does), you are faced with the fact that you still need to function. Whether you are a working mom or a stay at home mother, you will need to be alert enough to handle the tasks that life throws at you. And that requires getting some rest.

Here’s what you do. As one wise old saying goes, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” That’s right, when your baby nods off to sleep, lay her in the crib, and go catch a few winks yourself. This might be difficult for some to do during the daytime, but you are going to need the rest. For the better part of the first year of baby’s life, an eight hour night of sleep is just not in the cards for you.

Basically, it comes down to this. Since you won’t be able to sleep like an adult for a while, you’re going to have to learn how to sleep like a baby. That means taking one to four hour naps here and there, when the baby sleeps. Here are some tips for sleeping like a baby:

  • Give yourself some grace on the housework. It’s not going to kill anyone if the laundry waits a day.
  • Buy a sleeping mask if you have trouble sleeping during the daytime. They look a little silly, but they keep the sunlight out, and can really help you catch a much needed nap.
  • Turn the phone off. When you need a nap you need a nap, and you don’t need anyone’s text messages or phone calls depriving you of sleep. If it’s important, they’ll leave a message.