There are many things in the world that are tough and difficult but nothing beats being a mother. A woman after embracing motherhood has to sacrifice a lot and the most important thing that a mother is forced to sacrifice is SLEEP. I say forced because nobody gives up on sleep by choice.
I want to ask how many mothers amongst us have had the chance to hit the bed at 10 at night and stay in bed until the time we want in the morning. I know the answer very well. It will be actually none or maybe one or two lucky mothers. Newborn babies are very demanding and keep their mother’s on toes.
The poor things, the mothers have no option but look after their tiny baby as they love their babies the most. I call the initial days with the baby the real difficult ones as it takes time to understand about the baby’s sleep cycles. New mothers take time to become used to this schedule of being the awake whole night for the baby.
Importance of Sleep for an Individual
Sleep is the most important ingredient for the wellbeing of any individual. The need and time of sleep vary from person to person. On an average, a person should at least sleep for 6-7 hours. Good sleep prevents your body from getting fatigued. It also improves metabolism, digestion and overall health.
Proper sleep helps us in our ability to think clearly and make decisions. Sleep helps our brain to function properly. When we are sleeping our brain is getting prepared for the next day. Studies have also shown that a good night’s sleep improves learning, which also helps us to adapt fast to new things happening in our life.
However, the above-mentioned things are somehow not applicable to mothers.
Mothers are supposed to act like superwomen; to stay awake with the babies at night and take care of the rest of the family and look after a home at daytime.
Understanding a Newborn’s Sleep Pattern:
Newborns sleep a lot. They sleep for 16-18 hours in a day. But this does not happen at a stretch. Most babies don’t even sleep for 2 hours continuously during the first few weeks of their life. My baby is an exception. He used to get up at every half an hour and still does even after a year.
Newborn sleep cycles are very unpredictable. Sleep is commonly divided into two phases the light and deep sleep cycles. The light sleep cycles which are also known as the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase is when people dream and usually wake up easier than in the deep phase of sleep. The deep phase is the restful phase of sleep.
Babies spend half their sleep phase in the REM cycle. This is why they wake up easier and often. As your child grows older this phase will take up only 20% of the total sleep cycle. Therefore you will find your baby waking up often.
My baby, who is a year old now, has been having a problem with sleeping since the day he was born. I was told, babies start sleeping properly after 40 days. Till the 40th day, every day and night I prayed for the 40th day to arrive but on the 41st day, he was sleeping just like a newborn does. I read somewhere that babies take 3 months to come to a proper sleep schedule.
Three months came and went, and I was still awake at 3 at night singing or playing or feeding my owl. Even after 6 months, there was still no improvement at my end. Since then I have stopped thinking of peaceful sleep at night. But the following tips have helped me to keep my sanity and helped me to survive the first year of sleepless days.
Helpful Tips for Mothers to cope up with Your Baby’s Sleep:
#1 Sleep when the baby sleeps:
This sounds a little illogical but yes new mothers have to learn this art of catching sleep at the speed of light and sleep as soon as the baby sleeps. Trust me this strategy has helped me to stay calm in my motherhood journey till now.
#2 Take turns to look after baby:
Don’t feel shy to involve your husband or any other family member to take turns to look after the baby.
#3 Don’t stress yourself:
Don’t over read and stress yourself. Consider this phase as “This too shall pass” which gives a lot of strength
#4 Feeding positions:
Try and implement horizontal feeding position to feed baby, as there will be no need for you to get up every time the baby gets up to sit and feed
#5 Keep your Baby close:
You can practice co-sleeping in initial days or can use bassinets attached to the bed. It will only make your life easier.
#6 Get that “Me” time:
Sneak out that me-time from baby chores, even if it’s for 15-20 minutes. Do something that you like to do, like listen to music, watch Netflix, shop online or whatever will make you feel rejuvenated.
Practice exercises like deep breathing or meditation. You can also practice simple yoga forms. This gives a good adrenaline rush to your body and keeps you motivated to look after the baby and household chores throughout the day.
#8 Keep the Gadgets away:
Start practising this habit of staying away from the gadgets as soon as you reach closer to bedtime. Gadgets act as distractions and may pull you away from sleep.