how to “sleep like a baby” with a newborn

Sleep is absolutely vital to our wellbeing and mood. Just how vital? Well….

In 1965, a 17-year-old tested things out for himself and went without sleep for 11 days. 

Things went downhill pretty quickly. By the second day his eyes had already stopped focusing. By day three he was moody and uncoordinated. 

And by the end, his short term memory was on the fritz and he started hallucinating. 

(see this Ted Talk for the whole story)

It’s true that newborn babies have unpredictable schedules and getting uninterrupted sleep is impossible.

However, you can still get enough total sleep to counter the negative side effects of sleep deprivation, but it requires DISCIPLINE, SACRIFICE and PLANNING.

How?

Just say no… to almost everything

Your #1 job besides feeding your baby is to rest. No cleaning, no laundry, no meal prep. This is especially vital for the first six weeks after birth. 

Make certain chunks of time sacred for your rest - this could mean your partner doing the last feeding of the evening and you heading to bed on the earlier side, or friends/family watching your baby or cleaning the house while you nap uninterrupted. 

Turn off your iPhone...or at least charge it in another room

Although it’s going to be tempting to scroll Facebook and IG in your free time, at night you’re going to want to stay away from your phone because the artificial light screws with your body’s natural ability to wind down. No bueno.

Get your sleep gear ready

It can also be helpful to use tools like a sleep meditation, aromatherapy, earplugs, and deep belly breathing techniques to ease into sleep. (My fave sleep accessories are all listed here)

A relaxing sleep meditation can be restorative, and help you feel rejuvenated even if you don’t fall asleep. 

And if you’re unable to sleep, even though you've created these sacred times for rest, you might want to seek out a therapist to support you. 

Not being able to rest, even when you have time to, can be a sign of postpartum depression and anxiety. The longer you go without sleep, the more intense your symptoms can become, so reach out to a maternal mental health expert if you're concerned.