Sleep and What it means to Your Brain
How much sleep do you need? Well, that answer depends on many variables. Infants need to sleep approximately 16 hours a day, teenagers require about 9 hours on average, while most adults should get between 7 to 8 hours a night. When you’re sleep deprived, however, the amount of sleep your brain needs increases. Getting too little sleep creates a "sleep debt," which is much like being overdrawn at a bank. Eventually, your body will demand that you repay the debt. We don't seem to adapt to getting less sleep than we need; while we may get used to a sleep-depriving schedule, our judgment, reaction time, and other functions are still impaired.
Get Your Beauty Rest
For new moms, living on limited sleep comes with the territory. Use these tips to maximize every precious minute of sleep you can get.
- Prep yourself for sleep: For those moms who have trouble falling asleep even after a draining day of caring for a new baby, it might be tempting to wind down by catching up on a favorite show or scrolling through Facebook on your computer. But those activities may be counterproductive. "The light from the computer or television can be very stimulating and keep you up," says Amy Wolfson, D., author of The Women's Book of Sleep (New Harbinger). Instead, try taking a warm bath, read a book, or even listen to an audio book as you drift off to sleep.
- Keep baby close: One idea for nursing moms is to get a bassinet that attaches to the bed or sits next to it. That way, when the baby begins to stir, you can pick your baby up, nurse him or her, and then put him or her back in the bassinet. Your feet never have to touch the floor.
- Enlist some help: You don’t need to tackle nighttime feedings alone. One of the best ways to get a solid stretch of sleep is to have your partner or a friend work the night shift for you. It's easier to turn feedings over to someone else if you're bottle feeding, but moms who are breastfeeding can introduce a bottle of breast milk early on so that someone else can provide relief in the middle of the night. Keep in mind, an extra bottle of pumped breast milk can equal an extra two or three hours of sleep.
- Lie down, even if you can't sleep: Los Angeles therapist and postpartum expert, Diana Lynn Barnes, recommends that you “get off your feet, relax on the couch, and stay off the phone. Don't stress if you can't fall asleep. Just lying down for a half hour can be very restorative," she says.
- Take it Easy on the Caffeine: Although coffee provides an essential morning pick-me-up and can give you the jolt you need to be alert, overdoing it can mask your need for sleep and may prevent you from falling asleep when you finally lie down. Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that nursing moms try to limit their caffeine consumption to one cup a day.
- Plan ahead for your return to work: In the United States, 70% of women with children under the age of 18 participate in the workforce, which means you will likely return to work in some capacity after having your baby. This transition can be tricky when it comes to managing sleep schedules, but these strategies should help you and baby get the rest you need:
- Have a conversation with your child care provider. Be sure to discuss what your baby’s new routine will be once you’re back at work, and focus on nap times. Try to implement the new schedule before returning to work so that you can both begin to adjust. Keeping a consistent schedule during the day will help both you and baby sleep better at night.
- Figure out your feedings. Your baby’s meal routine will greatly impact your ability to sleep a night, which is why you should prepare for your current routine to change once you’re back at work. If you’re breastfeeding, and want to continue doing so after you go back to work, start introducing a bottle ahead of time. Also, consider pumping several weeks before going back to work to build up supply. Finally, talk openly with your employer about your pumping needs at work. Don’t forget; Federal law dictates that your employer has to provide you with pumping breaks, as well as a place to pump, until your baby’s first birthday. Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, getting your baby on a routine will help the transition go more smoothly.
Bambino’s Baby Food: One less thing to keep you up at night
For tired parents who need a little bit of extra help, don’t forget to order the highest quality baby food you can find! Zoi, our founder, knows exactly how hectic life can get with a little one at home, which is why she created recipes that are inspired by leading research and supported by pediatricians and allergists for allergy prevention, nutrition, and superior flavor. Stop stressing about what to feed your baby, shop our online store and use the extra time you saved to grab a nap.
Thoughts from our founder, Zoi: