As new moms, our days are filled with laughter and tears, marvel and despair, unconditional love and incomparable terror. We take up residency on an emotional rollercoaster, which raises us up to the ecstasy of: “Did she just smile at me? She did, she just SMILED at me!” before plummeting us back down to: “I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. And she knows…she KNOWS!”
At the end of all this coming and going and back and forth-ing and to-ing and fro-ing…you think we’d be utterly exhausted! And we are. The trouble is, we can’t get to sleep.
Whether it’s an inability to snooze between night-time feeds or the countless anxieties, plans and ideas that plague our pre-slumber brains, we end up subsisting on far too little sleep. When really, we’ve never needed it more.
Because getting enough, good-quality sleep every night makes us more energetic, productive, thoughtful, tolerant and healthier people. On the other hand, sleep deprivation can lead to us being lethargic, unmotivated, irritable zombies who are susceptible to all kinds of illnesses. I know which paints a prettier picture of the mom I’d like to be!
Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to ensure you get a better sleep – even in this new, hectic, chapter of your life.
1. Eat the right foods
As new moms, we often fall prey to snacking rather than eating properly. We simply don’t have the time to sit down to a proper meal and even if we’re at a restaurant, we’re usually so busy with bubs that we let whatever we ordered go cold, only to be cleared away without us noticing.
But sacrificing your own nutrition isn’t going to help your baby…or your sleep, either! All this snacking can lead to spikes and drops in your blood sugar levels. This means you rely on sugary foods or caffeine to “keep you going” – and lo and behold, come bedtime, you’re as high as those kites you painted in the nursery.
So try and have a proper breakfast and hearty lunch if you can. Eat something smaller in the evenings to avoid bedtime indigestion and choose snacks that comprise sleep-promoting foods (yes, there is such a thing!) so you won’t wake up hungry in the night. Kiwis, bananas and almonds are ideal as they’re high in magnesium (which helps us to calm down) and potassium (which acts as a muscle relaxant). Sweet!
2. Nap when you can
The saying “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is endlessly bandied about for good reason. It is sound advice; but still, we often seem to dismiss it in those early days. Instead, we’re busy being Supermom – washing a million babygros, whipping up batches of mashed veggies, sending “thank you” cards for all those baby gifts – anything but put our feet up.
Even if we do find a few moments to sit down, we’re updating our Facebook status, or checking emails, or getting hooked on daytime TV. When what we really, really need is a good old-fashioned nap.
Day or night, as soon as your lullabies have lured your baby to slumber, you should follow suit. Even if you can’t get to sleep, at least close your eyes for a while – free from anything that will stimulate your frazzled brain further. Something as simple as a 15-minute power nap can work wonders as to how you approach the rest of the day.
3. Accept help from others
Remember the Supermom I mentioned before? Well, the thing with superheroes, is that they tend to be loners. They don’t need help from anyone.
Hate to break it to you but…you do! Being a mother is hard. Being a mother for the very first time is even harder. And even if you don’t feel it at first, even if you’re happily floating on a cloud of love and joy, capable of anything…at some point you’re going to feel overwhelmed.
So when someone offers you help, take it! It might be your sister offering to babysit while you and your partner go out for a romantic meal. Or your neighbour might whip up their famous chicken and broccoli bake so you don’t have to cook. Or your father might fill up your car with petrol for you (his way of making a very sweet gesture in a gruff, dad-like fashion). Whatever the small or big acts of kindness, accept them with gratitude. People really are happy to help so don’t feel that it makes you a lesser mom because of it!
This is by no means an exhaustive list – there’s lots of ways you can enjoy better sleep, whenever, wherever and however you choose to do it! Getting some kind of evening routine going, doing alternating feeding shifts with your partner, practising some meditation exercises before bed…do whatever it takes, but make sure to take care of yourself, as well as your new baby.
Wishing you a sounder sleep, tonight and every night. xoxo
about the author…Hi, I’m Sarah – sleep lover, hiking enthusiast and mother to a wonderfully energetic 2-year-old girl. Running around after her all day means I no longer have any trouble getting to sleep at night! But when I was a new mom, I probably existed on around three hours sleep a night. I want to help others avoid my mistakes!