Tip #1 Make a plan for night wakings
More specifically, make a plan with your partner, that INCLUDES your partner for how you’ll share nighttime responsibilities. Even if your partner goes to work each day and you stay home, that shouldn’t matter. Both parents should be sharing nighttime responsibilities. Because let’s be honest, staying home with children and keeping tiny humans alive is a full time job and it’s not any less important or taxing than what your partner is away doing during the day.
Along the same lines, even if you’re breastfeeding exclusively, our partner can still help. They can get baby’s diaper changed, bring baby to you, and make sure you are supplied with any water or nighttime snacks you may need. Or if your child doesn’t easily go back down after a feeding, then you can hand them off to your partner while you head back to bed.
Making a plan ahead of time and honestly communicating is SO key for better sleep (and a better relationship).
Tip #2 Have a consistent bedtime routine
Just like our kids benefit from having a consistent bedtime routine that helps them wind down and get ready for bed, you will too! Make sure the activities you are doing are calming and helping you de-stress. Avoid exercise before bed, snacking, screen use, and anything else that may get you worked up.
A good starting place if you have no clue where to begin…
-Do a final check in on your phone before turning it off and leaving it out of your room
-Brush your teeth, wash your face, and do any other bathroom tasks
-Get dressed in your comfy pajamas
-Spend about 10 minute reading
-Lights off and white noise on! 🙂
Tip #3 Avoid screens before bed and during the night
Screen use before sleep time can be really detrimental to our circadian rhythm. The light sends signals to your brain that it’s not nighttime and this can lead to inhibiting of your melatonin production.
Guys, I know it’s hard to avoid screens before bed, and I am FAR from perfect. But if you are struggling with your sleep, I challenge you to give it a try for a week and see if it helps!
One more quick note with this tip: You also want to avoid staring at your phone during nighttime feeds because that can absolutely make it harder to wind down after.
Tip #4 Use a sleep mask to block out light
Just like your baby needs darkness to sleep, so do you! You can either do this by getting some good blackout covers (I recommend BlackoutEZ) or by grabbing a sleep mask! Having a sleep mask can be especially helpful if you and your partner have differing wake and sleep times.
Tip #5 Use white noise to block out sounds
At the risk of sounding like a broken record… you can benefit from white noise too! There’s a reason we recommend bedtime routines, dark sleep environments, and white noise for little ones. Those things set your child up for success and you’re a human too so it works the same way.
White noise works by creating a sound buffer to block out extra noises that may wake you from a light stage of sleep. I love sleeping with my Electrofan Classic white noise machine.
Tip #6 Avoid caffeine after lunch
I get it. You’re tired so you are downing coffee each day. But what if all that coffee drinking is making it harder to fall asleep? Typically it’s recommended by sleep doctors to avoid caffeine after lunch time (around noon).
Here’s your mini science lesson on the why: Caffeine blocks our adenosine receptors. Adenosine is the chemical that builds up as we are awake throughout the day. This build up is responsible for creating sleep pressure that helps us fall asleep at night. When we have too much caffeine (or have it too late in the day) our brain doesn’t realize we are sleepy and this stops the build up of sleep pressure, making it harder to fall asleep.
Bottom line. Assess your caffeine intake in the afternoon/evening and see if there’s room for improvement. 🙂
Tip #7 Watch out for daytime napping
First thing. If you are in survival mode of those newborn days when your baby is up every hour or so at night (which is normal and, unfortunately, to be expected with newborns) then naps are your friend! Take all the naps you can and get your sleep however you can.
However, if you are starting to get slightly longer stretches at night (3-4 hours) then I’d try to stay clear of daytime naps. Those will wipe out your daytime sleep pressure and, much like caffeine, make it harder to fall asleep at night. So watch out for those naps!
Tip #8 Move your child further from your side of the bed
If you’re room sharing and the sounds from your baby are disturbing your sleep, you have some options to think through. Maybe you decide you’re ready to move your child out of your room and into their own room. Maybe you can place their pack n play in your walk in closet. At the very least, I recommend moving their sleep space to as far from your side of the bed as possible.
If your partner is lessed by baby sounds, considering disturbing switching sides of the bed so you can be further from baby.
Tip #9 Consider taking a magnesium supplement
Magnesium can be really helpful when it comes to sleep. Magnesium works to relax and calm the body and help you sleep longer. I would opt for a magnesium supplement before using a melatonin supplement. Melatonin can aid in helping you fall asleep quicker but it’s not meant to help you sleep longer. On the other hand, magnesium has been shown to help regulate melatonin production so it’s kind of like hitting 2 birds with 1 stone!
Like all supplements, do your research before trying and it never hurts to ask your doctor too!
Tip #10 Keep a brain dump on your bedside table
As moms, we often have 50 million tabs open in our brains. And all those tabs and reminders can make it hard to shut our brains down and sleep. I highly recommend that you have a notepad on your bedside table. Each night before bed, jot down all the little details that are bouncing around in your brain. That way you can be sure you won’t forget anything and you can finally settle in for a restful night of sleep!
I hope these tips were helpful! Please remember that YOU deserve sleep too, Mama. Happy Sleeping!