It’s perfectly normal for a newborn baby not to sleep throughout the night. This is because your baby's stomach cannot yet hold large quantities of food at a time, and their biological sleep rhythm is not yet established.
Familiprix, in collaboration with Vie de Parents, will demystify parental sleep deprivation and provide tips on how parents can win back a few hours of sleep.
The main causes of sleep deprivation
New parents can better manage their new reality by understanding and accepting the causes of sleep deprivation.
In the first few months, a full night's sleep for your baby is equivalent to around 5 hours of consecutive sleep, although, unfortunately, this is not necessarily at the right time. What's more, every baby is different. Some sleep very well, while others have short sleep periods. As they get older, however, children adopt more regular sleep patterns.
Anxiety about your new reality
Becoming a parent for the first time takes some getting used to. Indeed, the arrival of a baby brings many changes and upheavals to the lives of new parents, which can be an obvious stress factor. Being in a constant state of taking care of your newborn becomes a major issue when it comes to sleep quality. Take the time to establish a family-friendly routine and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep or sleeping a sufficient number of hours, sometimes interspersed with several times waking up. Since a person’s mental state is a major aspect of insomnia, a new parent worried or concerned about their child's well-being is likely to experience episodes of insomnia. This period is usually temporary unless the insomnia is caused by a factor unrelated to parenthood.
The consequences of sleep deprivation
Insufficient sleep can have undesirable effects for both the parent and child over time.
Sleep deprivation can sometimes cause unwanted mood swings. It can be the source of disturbing behaviour, such as lack of motivation, impatience, irritability, etc. As a result, your relationships with those around you and your little moments of joy with your baby can sometimes be affected. You'll have a better frame of mind with a little restorative sleep.
Impaired cognitive functions
Sleep deprivation can also lead to an imbalance in cognitive functions, such as problems with attention, concentration and memory. Usually, with a little sleep, these symptoms resolve themselves.
Impact on your child
Sleep deprivation can not only has a negative impact on the parent but also on the child. Among other things, it can affect the development of the emotional bond between you and your baby. It's important to take a few precautions to stop this from happening.
Tips and tricks for exhausted parents
Don't be discouraged. Although it's a difficult time, there are a few things you can do to help.
Even if you are overwhelmed by all the tasks you have, try to let go and rest as much as possible as your baby falls asleep. If you're unable to sleep, simply lying down is also beneficial.
Don't hesitate to take turns as parents. Divide up the chores, take turns getting up at night, or take over when one parent feels overly exhausted. For breast-feeding moms, you can express your milk, so that your partner can offer a bottle to your little one.
Depending on the time of day, coffee can disrupt your sleep. If you're planning to take a nap during the day, for example, avoid caffeine for a few hours beforehand.
Limit screen time
Like coffee, all screens are stimulants. Before going to sleep, it's best to avoid them and indulge in a relaxing activity, such as reading a book or listening to soft music.
Life as a parent is full of challenges—and sleep is one of them. Keep in mind that this too shall pass. You’ll be able to sleep better soon!
Don't forget to rest and enjoy quality time with your baby!