The moment you and your partner bring your new baby home, almost all of your energy and attention will go toward baby care. In fact, a recent study done by Sleep Junkie found that new parents only spent an average of 4 hours a day caring for themselves. This lack of self-care can leave new parents feeling rundown and exhausted.
In addition to self-care, new parents are also missing out on precious hours of sleep. Sleep Junkie found that 68 percent of surveyed parents reported getting 7+ hours of sleep per night prior to the birth of their baby. Afterward, only 10 percent of parents reported being able to hit that number. Sleep deprivation is unhealthy and unpleasant, and it can make it difficult to care for your new baby.
The good news is that new dads can take simple steps to help themselves and their partner find the sleep they both desperately need.
1) De-Stress Before Bed
With a new baby at home and all of the life changes that come along with it, your stress levels may be through the roof. But going to bed anxious or worried can make sleep even more elusive. Experts suggest relaxation techniques such as reading, deep breathing exercises, journaling, or taking a hot bath or shower. These practices can help you let go of tension and stress from your daily life so you can find sleep more quickly.
2) Remove Tech From The Bedroom
Studies show that light from electronic screens can interfere with your body’s natural ability to produce melatonin. Since melatonin is necessary for triggering drowsiness, the light from screens can keep us from falling asleep quickly, causing us to lose precious minutes of rest. With a newborn in the house, it is more important than ever to get every second of sleep possible. To avoid this interference, consider reducing exposure to electronic light at least 2 hours before sleep.
3) Create A Tranquil Sleep Space
To find adequate sleep night after night, it is helpful to have a tranquil space to retire to. As a sleep-deprived parent, this is especially vital. Take stock of your bedroom and start by eliminating clutter such as exercise equipment, laundry, paperwork, or anything work-related. This will help to keep the space stress free. Next, consider keeping the space cooler. Since body temperature tends to drop when we sleep, we are more likely to sleep soundly in a cooler space. Experts suggest between 60 to 67 degrees. Lastly, consider the comfort of your mattress. If you or your partner are suffering from regular neck, back, or hip pain, it may be time to replace your mattress.
4) Take Turns
Couples should work together to divide responsibilities, such as feedings, diaper changes, housework, and shopping. If your spouse or partner is breastfeeding, it may be helpful to have her pump breast milk during the day so you are able to feed the baby at night. This will allow you both to share the burden of nighttime feedings.
If your spouse or partner is the one staying home with the baby during the day, this may also mean helping out when you are home so your partner can nap or have time for self-care.
5) Don’t Be Afraid to Accept Help
Whether you are raising the baby alone or with a partner, never be afraid to ask for help. You may even want to hire a professional sitter or nurse to watch your baby a few times a week. Whether the sitter comes during the day or in the evenings, this can provide a much-needed respite for you and your partner.
Chances are, friends and family may also offer to watch your baby. Take them up on this offer. In most cases, family and friends genuinely want to spend time with your baby and they also want to help you in any way possible. Time away from your baby to sleep or just to relax together can be rejuvenating for you both.
6) Don’t Make Additional Commitments
Like most adults, you and your partner likely have many demands on your time. However, with a newborn at home, it is wise not to make commitments beyond work and caring for your baby. You and your partner will need all of the down-time you can get for sleep and self-care. Do not feel obligated to accept invitations or to volunteer your time right now.
The most important thing to remember is that this time will not last forever. Your baby will likely start sleeping for longer stretches of time between 5 and 12 months. This means you will get your full recommended 7 hours of sleep again soon. In the meantime, these practical tips can help you and your partner find a bit more shuteye.
Thank you to Meg Riley of Sleep Junkie for this post.