Sleep - how to survive without it
Updated: Jan 14
This is probably the thing that most people warn you about, or laugh and say "get your sleep in now...". Every time someone said that to me I used to smile and nervously laugh. How bad could it be I would think.
Fast forward 7 months and I have completely forgotten what an unbroken, disturbance free night of sleep feels like. Sometimes I fantasise about sleep, then ponder just how much money I would exchange for eight hours of blissful sleep (it's lots by the way).
Why do babies wake up so much through the night?
As adults our body follows a circadian rhythm, in brief our circadian rhythm makes us tired at night and awake during the day. Newborn babies do not have this ability. Like most things it takes time to develop. This means that when they are born they follow their own internal rhythm.
Newborn babies feed between 8-12 times per day, this means that they are feeding every 2-3 hours. This continues day and night. As babies get older the amount of time they can sleep on go increases. By the time your little one is 6 months old it would not be unusual for them to be able to sleep 8 hours straight.
Our tips to surviving those sleepless nights....
1. Work as a team and support each other during those long nights. If mum is breastfeeding you can help by making sure that she is comfortable during those night feeds. Does she need a drink? Would a back rub help? Often babies latch on whilst mum is in the most uncomfortable position, but babies feed better when mum is relaxed.
If you are bottle feeding, take it in turns. Maybe alternate the early feeds so that the other partner might be able snatch a few more hours of sleep. Take turns on who goes and prepares the bottle, getting out of that warm bed can be a real drag.
2. Nap when you can. I spent countless hours watching Evie sleep in the early days, often whilst I was absolutely knackered. It took me weeks to realise that I should probably be napping when she was. My exhaustion soon faded when I started having naps in the afternoon.
Tag team with your partner, alternate days in which you have a nap. This allows you to recuperate and have some time to get that pesky house work done. Even better get the grandparents/siblings/friends/neighbours round to do a load of washing or make dinner whilst you have a nap, it really does take a village or at least a village makes it much easier.
3. Embrace the tiredness. Humans are creatures of habit. Our bodies will soon get used to being tired and the lack of sleep will soon become manageable - I promise!
4. Eat well. Eating well can help fight fatigue. Eating nutrient dense food such as fresh fruit and vegetables can keep that fatigue at bay. I hear you, who has time for good nutritious homemade meals with a brand-new baby? Your best friend is meal prep. In the weeks before Evie's due date Nicky and I batched cooked around 35 meals. This meant that for the first 2 weeks we had a good meal around dinner time every night - it was bliss.
5. Routine. As your little ones gets older and develops, routines become your best friend. Doing the same thing every night can help them settle for bed. When your little one is tiny there is little point in trying to force them into a rhythm. Most publications state that from around 8 weeks you should start building in some forms of a routine. It can be as simple as a bedtime story or bath time.
Is there a guaranteed answer? No. Unfortunately not. Your baby is constantly growing, changing and maturing. You might have a good few weeks where you think you have cracked it. We had a run of about 4 weeks where Evie slept for 6+ hours every night, we were smug as anything, then all of a sudden we were back to her waking ever 2 hours. Let us know your tips, what has worked for you?