Most new parents underestimate how much sleep they’ll lose, not only trying to get baby back to sleep, but also trying to get themselves back to sleep too. While there is plenty of sleep advice geared towards new moms, sleep tips for new dads are less common. But new dads often lose just as much sleep, especially in the first few weeks, when baby becomes part of the family. And without a plan in place designed to keep parents in somewhat of a functional state, it can feel impossible to gain some footing back into the world of the well-rested.
Although many new moms take the bulk of the sleepless nights, especially if they’re breastfeeding, many dads take on a midnight bottle feed, get up early with baby, or are the ones to rock a newborn throughout the night when it seems like nothing else will settle them. Even if it’s not your night to tend to baby’s needs, the constant disturbances of someone else getting out of bed and moving around in the middle of the night doesn’t do much to produce a restful night sleep. For those dads getting up to head into work the next day, it really is a much better situation when create a plan that tries to ensure both parents get a chance to get the sleep they need.
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How To Prioritize Your Sleep
If possible, agreeing to share night shifts, ideally shifts that get you a six to seven hour stretch of sleep, will go a long way in making the days easier to manage. New dads should know that they need to step in and help divide and conquer. During overnights (and daytime too), there are three essential baby tasks which include feeding, burping and changing diapers. If there are two people around, one person shouldn’t do all three things. This will only add to the overwhelming feeling of sleep deprivation.
Here are some practical sleep tips for new dads that will help the whole family get the rest they need.
1 – Do what you can to be ready for sleep, so that you can take advantage of any moment when sleep is feasible. Invest in a good eye mask, so you can sleep during the day or when lights are on. Also, keep plenty of water, earplugs and comfortable pillows and blankets handy.
2 – Go dry. Drinking alcohol makes it harder for your brain to sleep and you have enough sleep challenges right now as it is! If you find yourself craving a beer, swap it out for water or another non-caffeinated drink, as staying hydrated is important.
3 – Make sure everything is well stocked. You can never have enough diapers! Babies, especially newborns, go through more diapers than you think. If you make sure baby’s changing table is well stocked, it means you’ll be able to handle middle of the night changes quickly and get back to sleep. It will also reduce the number of late-night calls for help from your partner who realizes that there are no more wipes accessible at three o’clock in the morning.
4 – Go to bed early. It will be tempting to sit down to watch some Netflix once baby is asleep, but trust us, you’re better off heading to bed. Newborn babies are highly unpredictable and you just have no idea how many times you’ll be up in the night. Watching a screen right before bed will only make it harder to fall asleep anyway! Try some breathing techniques instead to help you fall asleep quickly.
5 – Eat properly. If you’re back at work make sure you have a healthy lunch every day, if possible. Avoid heavy meals that will make it a certainty that by three in the afternoon you will be slumped over your desk feeling like a nap is impossible to avoid. Proper nutrition will make it easier to handle sleep deprivation and will help you sleep better at night.
6 – Get on the sofa. If you’ve got a spare room or a comfortable sofa, sleep there for a couple of nights during the week, if possible. You need to help as much as possible, but if you are back at work, you also need to be functional. You can take over on the weekends, which means it will be your partner’s turn to get at least a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Sleep Deprivation Is Not A Badge Of Honour
Recounting how many times baby got up the night before does make for good water cooler talk, but sleep deprivation is not a badge of honour! If you’re back at work it likely means you’re driving, and depending on your job, completing tasks that require focus and attention. While it’s wildly known that new moms will be sleep deprived, be realistic about how much sleep you’re missing out on too, and how it’s effecting your daily life.
It won’t last forever, but for now be serious about protecting your sleep as a new dad. Not only can it be a safety issue, but when you’re well rested, you’ll be better able to support your partner and your baby – which is exactly what they need right now.