Coping with Sleep Deprivation

On average, parents get less than 59% of the recommended 8 hours sleep a night in the first twelve months after having a baby according to a recent study by sleep technology brand Simba. This equates to 50 nights sleep lost over the course of a year which can have a serious impact on a parent’s ability to function both mentally and physically.

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is something new parents often joke about, but this is no laughing matter. A significant lack of sleep can start to affect your body in many ways and can make it much harder for you to think rationally and logically.
Hands up if you recognise any of these signs of sleep deprivation…
  • Yawning
  • Moodiness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Accident prone
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Increased appetite
  • Reduced sex drive
Almost every parent has a funny story to tell about the effects of less sleep, like when they accidentally put the car keys in the freezer or left the house with their slippers on, we often accept it is just part of the parenting journey.
However, sleep deprivation can have serious consequences when parents get tempted to compromise on the safer sleep guidelines “just for one night” because they are so tired. The Lullaby Trust want to raise awareness of the importance of always following the safer sleep guidelines for your little ones, even when you are at your most tired, to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

So, what can you do to help ensure you always follow these guidelines?
Top Tips for Safer Sleep for Sleep Deprived Parents
  • Prepare your babies safer sleep space in advance, before you give birth. This means as soon as your baby is born you can hit the ground running and won’t need to think about whether the sleep environment is safe alongside everything else you will be thinking about in those early days.
  • Think about a short ‘safer sleep routine’ that you could follow before every nap or night time. For example, check the temperature of the room, get baby dressed, take everything out of the sleep space, give baby their dummy and lay baby down on their back. If you repeat these things in the same order every time then it will become a habit and help ensure your baby sleeps safer at every nap.
  • Ask your partner, a friend or a family member to sit with the baby or take them out for a walk while you catch up on some shut eye and recuperate. It would be amazing if they would agree to do this on a regular basis so that you can try to get back some of the sleep you will inevitably lose at night.
  • Sleep is precious so take any chance you can get, forget about stacking the dishwasher when baby is napping and lay down yourself for some rest, even if you can’t nap, just try to take a break.
  • If you are breastfeeding then you might like to try expressing some milk once you and your baby have established breastfeeding, so your partner could take over one of the night feeds and you can sleep for longer.
  • You and your partner could make a ‘lie-in plan’ so you can take it in turns to get up with the children in the morning so that the other one can sleep in and rest uninterrupted.
  • Sleep deprivation can sometimes (ironically) make it difficult to fall asleep when your head finally touches the pillow. Children and adults alike can suffer from being ‘over-tired’ which makes it hard to switch off. If this happens to you then you might like to try taking a bath, reading a book or switching off any electronic devices like your mobile phone at least 30 minutes before bedtime to give your brain a chance to switch off.
  • Share the Lullaby Trust safer sleep guidelines with anyone who will have responsibility for your little one, whether that’s your partner, grandparents, a child minder or your wider family and friends. The more you make people aware of them, the more likely they are to follow them which will help your baby sleep safer.

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