A good night’s sleep…. Remember that? If you’re a new parent; probably not. With thanks to your new arrival, studies show you have less than 5 hours of sleep per night for the first 12 months. Worse still, it is likely to be interrupted by feeding, crying and whatever else bub throws your way.
With the side effects of sleep deprivation including anxiety, fatigue, and impaired immunity, it’s imperative you have advice on how you can sleep better – even in that testy first year.
Thus – on behalf of Welcare, I’m pleased to use my 9 years of academic studies to provide science-based strategies to get your best night’s sleep – starting tonight.
Tip 1: Reduce evening light
It may seem of minor importance, however, as I noted in a recent article on our sister site Dreamlight – light is a number one cause of sleeplessness.
Evidence shows just 5 minutes of light through the night – e.g. when you are feeding – can delay melatonin production by a staggering 2.3 hours. Melatonin is the hormone to make you sleepy: if you don’t synthesise it during the night, you will struggle to fall back to sleep. Further – you’ll also feel more fatigued in the morning.
Hence – reduce evening light as much as possible: dim the lights and turn off devices.
During the night when you feed, opt for sleep friendly red night lights too.
Tip 2: Wear an eye-mask when you sleep
Following the above, blocking out 100% of light is critical – just a peep of light can sabotage your efforts to get quality rest (even if it is just for an hour or two).
This is particularly important if you’re feeling anxious – as noted in academic papers, light stimulates the production of cortisol, the hormone to make you feel alert. Problem is, if you’re already suffering anxiety, instead of feeling alert you feel restless and tense.
Tip 3: Encourage self-settling
Having bub return to sleep themselves means you don’t have to get up – ideal right? Playing a recording of your unique heartbeat is a valuable tool for you here – research shows it can help bub fall back to sleep 26% faster and sleep for 49% longer. Naps too – the evidence indicates it increases nap length by 43%.
Outside of that, playing white noise will help you here too: a recent study found 80% of babies fell asleep within 5 minutes when listening to it. Yes. 5 minutes!
A great tool to use is the Welcare Sleep-Tight Sleep Sound Machine – it plays a recording of your heartbeat, white noise and calming lullaby’s too.