Effects of Sleep Deprivation on New Parents

Sleep deprivation can cause a variety of problems. If you are a new parent, here are some suggestions on how you can get a good night's sleep.

* Take it slowly - Lack of sleep can lead to arguments, stress, screaming and calling mom to come and visit…forever. It may seem like a never-ending vicious cycle now, but with a few strategies you, too, will survive your child’s early years. You may even decide to have another one.

* Create a schedule – You are home with the baby, but your partner will be home soon. Even sleeping for a few hours is better than none at all. Maybe when he gets home, he can relieve you to sleep for a couple of hours. On the weekends, you may be able to alternate better when work is not an issue.

* Keep baby in your bed – Being surrounded by parents can make them warmer and make them wake up less except for feedings or diaper changes. Some parents find it is easier to cope when they can simply lean over and grab a diaper instead of getting out of bed and walking to another room. When baby begins sleeping for longer stretches, place them in a bassinet in your room instead of keeping them in the bed.

* Get a sitter – If friends or family want to spend time with your baby, let them. They can watch baby while you get some sleep.

* Sleep when baby sleeps – This is easier said than done, but it does give you some time to rest. Maybe if you get a good long sleep the first time, when they wake and sleep again, you can handle household tasks or even taking a bath.

* Recognize the cry – Babies cry in their sleep. Each time you hear them crying is not a cause for alarm. Sometimes, they won’t even open their eyes and will go back to sleep. If you know they are fed and dry and warm, let them cry it out while you get some sleep.

* Eat power foods – If you can’t sleep, get some food in you that will help you stay alert. Try peanut butter sandwich or a nice cup of tea to stay awake. Avoid medications with lots of stimulants; if you get a chance to sleep, you may not be able to.

* Feed and sleep – If you are breastfeeding, pump milk during the day while baby is awake but not feeding. These bottles can be used so you and your partner can take turns. When it is your turn, lie on your side and feed baby. That way, if you fall asleep, baby is safe and can feed without you.