Sleep deprivation with a newborn? Restoring sleep habits may take year

Most parents realize they’re in for some sleep deprivation when having a newborn at home, but now researchers have determined it takes much longer for sleeping habits to return to normal.

A recent studyfound sleep satisfaction and durationreached the lowest point during parents’ first three months after having a baby. Even six years later, however, parents’ sleep still hadn’t fully recovered.

Mark A. Brockman Jr., M.D., pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Associates – Iroquois, sees lots of tired moms and dads.

“From nightly feedings to children having scary dreams, to the physical and emotional toll of parenting, there are lots of reasons parents don’t get good sleep,” Dr. Brockman said. “It takes a while for everything to get readjusted and get back to equilibrium.”

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According to Dr. Brockman, the lack of sleep moms and dads are getting can have long-term health effects

“If you’re not on a routine, not exercising, not eating healthy, it will definitely be exacerbated by not getting enough sleep,” he said.

 

Creating healthy sleeping habits

Dr. Brockman said it’s never too early to establish healthy sleeping habits in children which, in turn, should help parents get more z’s. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Establish a regular bedtime and wake time. Try not to vary from the schedule more than one to two hours, even on weekends.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as a warm bath or reading.
  • Do not give your children food or drinks containing caffeine or sugar within four to six hours of their bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning it sends signals to the brain that it is not ready for rest.
  • Avoid large meals or snacks before bedtime.
  • Avoid exercising before bedtime. Similar to the effects of caffeine, exercise stimulates the brain and tells it that it’s not ready for sleep.
  • No screens allowed in the bedroom — no TV, movies, cellphones, laptops, video games or tablets. There are two theories behind this: 1. The light from electronic screens delays the release of melatonin, the hormone your body naturally produces to control your sleep and wake cycles, making it harder to fall asleep; and 2. Keeping your brain engaged with the content from the devices prevents it from feeling ready for rest.
  • Make sure the bedroom is dark and comfortable, and noise levels are at a minimum throughout the house. If the environment isn’t helpful for sleeping, then falling asleep is delayed, resulting in less overall sleep.


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