Amazingly, we move from crappy sleep in the 3rd trimester to celebrating getting three straight hours of sleep in the 4th. Exhaustion is a reality which becomes a horror show when you go back to work.
“Helpful” advice like “sleep while the baby sleeps” makes me want to scream, “You have no fuck*ng idea!”
Everybody knows that being tired is a normal—that is, typical—part of parenting in the early years, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. As a culture, we constantly downplay the toll this takes on us. When we’re chronically tired, we start having trouble even seeing that fatigue is part of the problem. Being underslept makes it harder to regulate emotions, meaning that staying even-keeled and managing depression and anxiety are even harder. Sleep helps regulate mood, inflammation, memory-formation, and learning.
What To Do (Bites)
Prioritize sleep, no matter what
The parenting adage “sleep when the baby sleeps” just doesn’t work for everyone, especially those who work in environments where a long daytime snooze (like the kind your toddler takes) just isn’t going to happen. But it might mean going to sleep really early, way earlier than you are used to, and sacrificing the 9-11pm time you want to have as adult time or to bond with your partner. This may be your priority in the early days and you reintegrate adult time when you’re getting a little more sleep.
Getting to sleep faster
While we’re exhausted, that doesn’t mean we just fall face-first into the mattress and black out. For many Cram it all in Year moms, there are many thoughts cycling through our brains that interfere with getting to or staying asleep. For some people, hearing sounds of nature, stories or music works for them. Try Headspace, Noisli, pzizz, or Calm. Some double as a meditation app. We’ve been known to listen to a favorite TV show that we’ve seen a million times. We’re not staying up to hear the end but instead, it distracts our brain from ruminating over everything else.
Take a moment of constructive rest
If you’re sleep deprived and have just a bit of time to sneak in a helpful pause (but know that you won’t get an actual nap), there are a bunch of ways to clear your mind, wake up the body or just feel energy running through you. Truthfully, the data is foggy here but hey, you may find it helpful. From yoga, try child’s pose. It can provide a stretch, mind relaxation and a moment of rest. Or, try a simple practice from the Alexander Technique called constructive rest, which can give your nervous system a bit of a reboot. Because of this, you can also try it as a wind-down practice before bed, or as a transition from work to home. Here’s a PDF that provides guidance.
If sacrificing your adult time totally just isn’t going to happen, think about alternating early wake-ups with your partner (if you have one) so that every other night you get closer to your needed hours of rest, and you get a couple nights a week of grown up/unwinding time at night.
We’re not advocating breast over formula, or when to introduce, how, or how often. Just feed your baby. BUT, to speed nighttime feedings (let alone day), transfer nighttime feedings to your partner, or just to simplify the formula prep process, we love the Baby Brezza Formula Pro.
It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyways. Phones, social media, emails are just bad things to read before bed or worse, when you wake up to feed your baby. Find the discipline to not resort to that kind of entertainment (if that’s what you call emails).
Hope you found this helpful! Got a topic you’d like some wisdom on? Let us know.