New Baby Sleep Deprivation

Whether we’re pregnant or have just given birth, chances are we think about sleep now more than ever.

Maybe you’ve heard the advice, “just sleep when the baby sleeps!” Well, that sounds very nice in theory, but for many of us, that’s just not practical for so many reasons. We wish we had a magical solution for you, but for many parents, it’s just pretty rough for the first few months.

If we’re new moms, our sleep is probably suffering because of the baby. Some babies are very challenging, for different reasons. Sometimes this happens with babies who are born prematurely, or have a particularly difficult birth. Or maybe there’s just no explanation except that babies will be babies.

Regardless, we know that sleep can be very difficult while we’re pregnant or while we’re looking after a new baby. If you’re having trouble and want to try a few things out, we’ve got some recommendations.

But first, there are different types of sleep issues.

The first thing to recognize is what type of sleep problem you may have - does it have to do with getting to sleep, staying asleep, waking up early or poor quality sleep? We’ll explain each of these in a bit more detail.

Getting to sleep - this is when you have difficulty falling asleep and is the most common problem people experience, particularly those with anxiety. It can take hours to fall asleep but usually the sleep is good when you do manage to fall asleep. This is obviously tricky when you’re waking up in the middle of the night to feed the baby or go to the bathroom for the millionth time.

Staying asleep - this is when you wake up frequently in the middle of the night and have difficulty getting back to sleep,

Early morning waking - this is when you wake up earlier than you want to, sometimes several times during the early morning hours and have difficulty getting back to sleep - this is more common in parents who are feeling a little low.

Poor quality sleep - this is when you don’t get enough sleep because you sleep lightly or are restless. It could be that you may feel very unrefreshed when you wake up.

There are two basic foundational strategies that can be helpful for getting good sleep:

  • One is about your environment, and setting up good sleep habits. You can find more information on these in the other sessions.

  • Trying out a few strategies to address your mind if it is racing during the night, or if you think anxiety or depression may be affecting your sleep.