Jan 22 , 2024
Achieving peace, happiness, and health is what I consider true beauty, and according to Beyonce, none of these can be attained without adequate sleep.
When it comes to the realm of sleep, many new parents may resonate with the sentiment expressed in Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" - the realization that the value of a good night's sleep becomes apparent only after it's disrupted.
Whether you've always been a proficient sleeper or have faced your share of challenges, nothing quite compares to the upheaval a new baby brings to your sleep routine. Suddenly, a tiny human, unfamiliar with the concept of daylight, dictates when everyone in your household sleeps or wakes. Balancing multiple nighttime feedings, coupled with well-intentioned but impractical advice like "Sleep when the baby sleeps," can easily lead to sleep deprivation, making everything feel overwhelming.
While disrupted sleep is a common rite of passage for new parents, it doesn't have to be synonymous with chaos and sleeplessness. By establishing a solid foundation for optimal sleep for both your baby and yourself, you can navigate the challenges and help the entire family find a sleep rhythm that works.
To begin, institute a consistent bedtime routine for everyone. Humans thrive on routine, and a set schedule helps the mind and body prepare for sleep. Craft a realistic routine for your household, possibly starting after dinner with activities like turning off screens, a family walk, baby's bath time, feeding, and bedtime rituals for the baby, followed by nighttime chores and bonding time for parents before lights out.
Ensure that screens and devices are kept out of the bedroom. Despite their usefulness, evidence suggests that these devices can disrupt sleep. Establish a charging station outside the bedrooms, creating a screen-free zone for everyone.
Leverage the natural rhythm of the sun to regulate sleep patterns. Use dual curtains in the nursery—sheer for natural light and blackout for darkness during nap time. Embrace natural light changes throughout the day to help your baby establish a consistent sleep rhythm.
Create a safe and soothing sleep environment. For the baby, keep their sleeping space free of unnecessary items, opting for a fitted sheet and sleep sack. Choose calming colors, natural materials, and maintain a slightly cooler temperature. A white noise machine can mimic womb sounds, promoting a restful sleep environment. Always place the baby on their back for sleep.
For yourself, designate the bedroom as a sleep-only sanctuary. Minimize clutter and surround yourself with comforting colors, scents, and textures.
Prioritize movement and play during the day to foster a healthy sleep rhythm. Incorporate daily activities like walks, park visits, or family dance parties to signal wake-up time.
Embrace snuggle time for the production of oxytocin, known as the cuddle hormone, which reduces stress and encourages bonding and well-being, contributing to better sleep. Skin-to-skin time with your baby, especially during bedtime rituals, can activate oxytocin for both parent and child.
While numerous strategies for baby sleep exist, every baby and family is unique. Listen to your instincts, your baby, and your body, and over time, you'll discover the routines and rhythms that work best for you. Wishing you tranquil dreams and restful sleep!