During the last trimester of pregnancy, sleeping is difficult. The big baby bump, frequent urination and sciatica are all issues that can interfere with a quality night’s sleep. Many women hope that once they give birth, their sleep will improve. Unfortunately, many women find themselves facing continued sleep deprivation during the first several months of their child’s life due to the child’s feeding schedule, post-partum pain and any potential medical issues the baby is dealing with. Try these five ways to combat post-partum insomnia.
1. Create a Sleep Haven
Buying a new, supportive mattress that cushions the joints is a good start for improving sleep. A memory foam mattress is a good choice because it helps with heat dissipation and conforms to the changing shape of your post-partum body.
Make sure your bedroom is free of artificial light. Store electronic devices in a different room. Get room-darkening blinds. Set the thermostat to 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Choose some new, soft linens and plush pillows.
Try not to bring your new baby into the room for feeding or soothing when they are crying. Use another room, like their bedroom, for those activities. Your room should be your oasis to rest and heal after giving birth. Getting a good sofa chair that rocks and reclines will be a game changer to help get your baby to sleep and feed comfortably. These can also help you alleviate back pain during these activities. Only use your bedroom for sleep and rest.
2. Control Caffeine Intake
Stop consuming caffeine after 2:00 pm if you have a 10:00 bedtime. If you go to bed earlier, stop the caffeine intake earlier. Caffeine’s half-life is about four hours, and its lasting effects could keep you up when you want to sleep. If you take naps during the day then you really should only have a coffee in the morning. It is a really good idea to nap when your baby naps. This helps your body deal with the lack of sleep during the night when you are up feeding them.
Consider decreasing your caffeine consumption. If you typically drink six cups of regular, drip-brewed coffee each day, cut down to five. Another option is to add five scoops of regular ground coffee beans and one scoop of decaf beans to your filter. If you use a single-cup brewer, get some decaf pods. If you’re nursing, remember that caffeine passes into human milk. It could keep your baby up at night, too.
3. Do a Brain Dump
If worries or anxiety keep you up at night, do a brain dump before getting into bed. Write in a journal about what’s worrying you. If you have medical concerns, talk to your nurse practitioner, midwife, pediatrician or family doctor. Give yourself a specific amount of rumination time, and do your worrying in the middle of the day. If the worries creep in at bedtime, tell yourself it’s not time, and those thoughts will have to wait until your next worry session.
A really good idea is to talk to someone about what you’re worrying about. If you live with a significant other than talk to them about these worries. Getting it off your chest will help you feel better and get a fresh perspective.
4. Prepare for Nighttime Feedings
Get everything ready for nighttime feedings before going to bed. This means preparing bottles if you’re formula-feeding. Set up a diaper for the baby for easy nighttime changes that don’t require turning on all the lights. Install dimmers in all your lights ahead of time so you can keep lights low when you turn them on. Bright lights can stimulate alertness and make is much harder to go back to sleep. They can also disrupt your circadian rhythm which significantly impacts the quality of your sleep.
If you’re nursing, consider a co-sleeper. The baby will be right next to your bed. Instead of passing the time looking at social media or videos on your phone, close your eyes and relax. Your phone emits blue light, which will increase your alertness and keep you awake.
5. Practice Relaxation
Almost all new moms feel overwhelmed at some point. Some relaxation techniques can help calm your mind and body. Try progressive muscle release or deep breathing. Meditation or prayer may also help. When your baby is sleeping and you aren’t tired use your free time to work on yourself.
Another option is to play a distracting mind game with yourself. Think of a city for each letter of the alphabet. Pick a letter and see how many cities you can think of that begin with it.
Remember that this stage of your life will pass, and your sleep will improve.