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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 13, 2020

    12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

    12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

    As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

    1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

    I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

    Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

    Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

    2. What is the purpose of meditation?

    The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

    It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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    Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

    In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

    You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

    This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

    The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

    Less Physical, More Psychological

    Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

    This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

    The First Benefit of Meditation

    The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

    1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
    2. Relaxation of the body

    Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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    Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

    That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

    When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

    When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

    Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

    Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

    This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

    Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

    Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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    This benefit takes you to the second one.

    The Second Benefit of Meditation

    While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

    1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
    2. Observance
    3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
    4. Patience

    Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

    You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

    This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

    1. Energy

    Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

    2. Observance

    The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

    3. Peacefulness

    Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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    4. Patience

    The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

    The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

    Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

    Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

    The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

    • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
    • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
    • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
    • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
    • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
    • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

    These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

    Final Thoughts

    Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

    Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

    Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

    More on Meditation

    Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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