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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 January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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