We Are All Sleep Deprived
Whether you have a newborn at home or a toddler, you are most likely getting up in the middle of the night for one reason or another quite often. Studies have shown that over the course of eight hours, if you get up two or three times a night for even just 20 minutes, it’s worse than if you had gotten just 5 hours of straight sleep. This is because every time you wake up and then go back to sleep you have to start the sleep cycle all over again. Since you first enter a lighter, non-REM sleep before you get to REM sleep, restarting this cycle causes a significant decrease in your deep sleep. It is this lack of REM or deep sleep that causes us to have memory lapses and gives us that foggy feeling during the day.
Good news – we have some tips to help get some better nights’ sleep:
- When a person who’s long been bereft of sleep finally gets some shut-eye, the brain will make up deep and REM sleep as needed. Sleeping a bit more on the weekends — say, two or three hours — can be beneficial. Also, a short afternoon nap is beneficial as well. But don’t sleep any later than 2 or 3 p.m.
- Trade off middle-of-the-night wake-ups or feedings. One night mom is on call, the next night dad is on call. This way at least one of you is getting a solid good night’s rest. (I know this can be difficult if your child prefers one parent over the other, but give it a try – they may get use to it and choose to go back to sleep on their own after a few nights of this).
- If your little one is old enough (6+ months) turn down the volume on their monitor. Babies tend to move around a lot and make little noises while they sleep, which may startle you awake while your child is actually fine. That being said, if they do wake up often throughout the night, help train your little one to go back to sleep on their own.
- Exercise during the day, but not 2-3 hours before bed.
- Get outside! Fresh air helps you sleep better.
- Take your vitamins.
- Avoid caffeine 6 hours before bed.
- A glass of warm milk is not only for baby, but good for you too — warming the milk releases the tryptophan, which helps some people sleep.
- Set nighttime mood before bedtime – help induce relaxation by taking a warm shower & dimming the lights in your bedroom before you get into bed for the night. Also, turn any bright lights away from you while you sleep – including lights from your phone, alarm clock, monitor, etc. Try reading a good old fashion book before bed as well, instead of playing on your phone. Reducing screen time before bed can help you sleep better as well.
- If you’re lucky enough to have a family member live close by, send the kids off for an overnight with them every once in awhile when you are really overdue on sleep. Or have them stay over with the kids while you and your hubby spend the night at a hotel – this will not only help to add a little romance back into your life, but also let you sleep.