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10 Practical Tips For Sleep-Deprived New Parents

10 Practical Tips For Sleep-Deprived New Parents

Let’s face it, sleep deprivation is no fun and coping with a lack of sleep can affect all areas of your life, from your job, to your relationship, to your social life. This can all be amplified even further when you are a new parent and have a baby who needs your attention all the time. However, there are a few natural, simple ways to ensure you get a better night’s sleep with lasting results. Here are 10 of them:

1. Avoid using your computer and phone before bed

Did you know that your computer and phone emit strong waves of blue light? This can can actually suppress your body’s natural production of melatonin because of its short wavelengths.

Melatonin is a natural hormone found in our bodies that is produced by the pineal gland (a small gland in the brain) and helps control your sleep/wake cycles. Basically, when you are asleep, your brain is producing lots of melatonin. Normally, melatonin levels begin to rise in the mid- to late evening, remain high for most of the night, and then drop in the early morning hours. However, this can be thrown off if you are waking up constantly for your baby or have to continually stay up really late.

If you have to work late one night, or absolutely need to use your computer, I highly recommend installing f.lux on your computer (added bonus—it’s free). This simple program makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day: warm at night and like sunlight during the day. Basically, it makes your computer screen look like the room you’re in, all the time. It only takes five minutes to install too!

To learn more about helpful sleep tips for your body’s natural circadian rhythms, check out this article.

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2. Install red light bulbs in your room

Ever wonder why most alarm clocks are red? Well, that’s because the color red stimulates melatonin production in your brain, is softer on the eyes and is better for sleeping compared to other colors.

If you are having a lot of trouble falling asleep because your body clock is all thrown off from being with the baby at all hours of the day, why not buy some red light bulbs for your bedside light? This is a very cheap and easy solution. All you have to do is read a book by red lamplight for 30 minutes before going to bed, and you will be out like a light in no time. The effectiveness of this shocked me!

If you are interested in learning more about melatonin, you may be interested in this article.

3. Consume foods high in melatonin

If your sleep schedule is all screwed up and despite being super tired you cannot fall asleep, why not try consuming foods high in melatonin?

Here are a few suggestions:

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  • Tart (sour) cherry juice concentrate is extremely high in melatonin: 17,535ng*/100g
  • Tart (sour) cherries: 1,350ng/100g
  • Walnuts: 270ng/100g
  • Ginger root: 142.30ng/100g

*ng = nanograms

Of all of these suggestions, I highly recommend ginger, as it is not high in sugar (great before bed) and is somewhat calming. One great way to consume more ginger without making a mess in the kitchen (new parents don’t need anything more to clean!) is with a calming, gentle tea.

4. Power nap

Naps are very effective and greatly underestimated. If you are sleep deprived, a nap may be just what you need. The crazy thing is that research shows “short naps” can be highly effective (an added bonus for new parents).

So how long of a “short nap” do you need to feel better? This depends on what you are looking for. For example, if you need instant energy, a really short, 10-minute nap can do the trick. This is because you will only be going through the lighter stages of sleep, therefore you will not feel groggy when you wake up. In fact, according to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, a nap as short as 8.4 minutes can increase cognitive function and alertness.

If you are looking to achieve more “focus” after a nap, then get 20 minutes’ sleep. According to the Human Technology Research Institute, a 20-minute nap helped test subjects feel more engrossed in what they were doing after.

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Did you ever think a short “power nap” could improve your memory? It can. To achieve this, try taking a 45-minute nap. Why 45 minutes? This is because if you sleep for 45 minutes, you will enter the first stage of deep sleep—called REM sleep (rapid eye movement sleep)—and in this stage of sleep you can actually improve memory tasks up to 20%. An added bonus is you will feel much calmer and less stressed out after. However, you will need 15 minutes or so to shake off the grogginess.

5. Try yoga inversions

yoga inversions2

    The best thing you can do when coping with sleep loss is to get your legs up above your head. Nope, it does not have to be a headstand or handstand—it actually works better if it’s not, in fact. Inverting has many benefits for our minds and bodies. For starters, it improves our circulation, supports the back, and calms our nervous system.

    Also, as a new parent your mind will probably be cluttered with mental chatter; inversions will help clear your mind. Try this: Pile two pillows or place a bolster next to a wall right before bedtime. Practice the traditional “legs up the wall pose” for five to ten minutes. For an added benefit, try covering your eyes with a towel or eye pillow.

    In terms of breathing, it’s best to take long, slow breaths and use only the sound of it to drown out any thoughts. When you are done, keep your mind quiet (avoid using the computer or other electronics and interacting with others), then crawl straight to bed for a sound sleep.

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    6. Say, “No,” to added responsibility

    As a new parent, I am sure everyone wants to come over and see your baby, or maybe you want to go on a field trip with your oldest child. This won’t benefit you or your family because you will just be overwhelmed and tired. The last thing you need is to get sick, so keep things simple!

    7. Sleep when the baby sleeps

    It may not be a bad idea to go to sleep when the baby sleeps, even if you just take a 20-minute nap. You will always have a million things to do, so don’t use that as an excuse. You have now learned from point 4 that as little as 15 minutes’ sleep can help shake off the tiredness.

    8. Take turns at night

    It’s important to work as a team when you are new parents. As much as a new mom needs to breastfeed the baby all the time, the daddy needs bonding time too. Why not work out a schedule in which every second night the father has to wake up with the baby? You can prepare bottles in advance for when the baby needs feeding.

    9. Power snacking

    Sometimes after being up on-and-off during the night, you can feel kinda gross in the morning. To avoid this, many people have found power snacking really helpful. After all, once you’re up, it can be hard to fall back to sleep! Why not try for some yogurt, herbal tea (chamomile is very relaxing) or peanut butter with crackers?

    10. Detox your diet

    You may be wondering why detoxing is on this list. Yes, detoxing may seem like a monstrous task when you are sleep deprived, but eliminating certain foods from your diet can go a lot way towards getting the proper shut-eye your body needs. Foods that spike your blood sugar levels (i.e. cookies, chips, candy) may seem like the perfect fix when you’re tired, but they will make you “crash and burn” later. It’s best to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and foods high in sugar such as refined carbohydrates, candy, and cookies.

    If this is too much for you, why not take a small step in the right direction and get a yummy detox herbal tea. Most of them are 100% natural and contain organic, healthy ingredients.

    What helps you sleep or prevents you from getting a good night’s rest? Feel free to leave a comment below and let us know.

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    Last Updated on August 12, 2019

    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

    But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

    I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

    Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

    1. Nuts

    The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

    Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

    Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

    Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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    2. Blueberries

    Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

    When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

    3. Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

    4. Broccoli

    While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

    Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

    Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

    5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

    Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

    The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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    Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

    6. Soy

    Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

    Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

    Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

    7. Dark Chocolate

    When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

    Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

    8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

    Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

    B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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    Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

    Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

    To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

    9. Foods Rich in Zinc

    Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

    Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

    Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

    10. Gingko Biloba

    This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

    It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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    However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

    11. Green and Black Tea

    Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

    Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

    Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

    12. Sage and Rosemary

    Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

    Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

    When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

    More About Boosting Brain Power

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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