Crying baby, poop-filled diapers, feeding times, puke-covered onesies, sleep regression — there’s so much happening when you bring your little one home. And when it comes to catching some zzz’s in, you’ll probably have better luck winning the lottery.
Fret not; Dr. Michael Breus, a.k.a. the Sleep Doctor, has some incredibly helpful sleep tips for new parents. With it, you can see what you can implement to get a better night’s rest.
“There’s no place like the bed,” as the saying goes. So for the sake of self-love (and, perhaps, your sanity), let’s explore how to get more sleep as new parents.
How Much Sleep Do New Parents Get?
Life changes after you have children, and, let’s be honest, so does your slumber. While the recommended hours of sleep for any functioning adult are around seven hours, for new parents, it’s been found that the number drops to about five or six.
A 2022 survey by Sleep Junkie reveals that 68% of people were getting the recommended hours before having a baby. Afterward, only 10% of parents were hitting that.
Moreover, their research found that new parents are collectively deprived of around three hours of sleep every night during their newborn’s first year. That’s equivalent to watching one part of The Lord of the Rings.
It can majorly affect your physical, mental, and emotional health, just like it impacted Gollum (who also gets very little sleep). More than likely, you’ll often feel somnolence, but instead of a ring, you have a little human that requires constant care and attention.
And that can be difficult.
For moms, specifically, sleep deprivation has been found to negatively impact the ability to mother effectively, according to a 2015 study. Furthermore, it can lead to greater depressive symptoms and an antagonistic mindset, like mom guilt.
When Does It Get Better?
Parents and sleep—the struggle is real. Is the phrase “this too shall pass” applicable in this case?
Maybe, but it really depends on how you manage your parental worries to optimize your sleep.
A 2019 study looked into the long-term effects of pregnancy and childbirth on sleep satisfaction and the duration of first-time and experienced mothers and fathers. The researchers found that “neither mothers’ nor fathers’ sleep fully recovers to prepregnancy levels up to six years after the birth of their first child.”
But that research covers only the first six years. What happens after that?
“Just when you may feel as though you’ve hit a groove, the teenage years arrive and brings with them a whole new set of sleep-depriving worries,” says Dr. Breus, who’s also the trainer of Mindvalley’s The Mastery of Sleep Quest.
It’s important to note that this information isn’t to scare you or discourage you from having children. Instead, it encourages you to explore good sleep hygiene for sufficient rest.
So how do new parents deal with sleep deprivation? Here’s where Dr. Michael Breus’ expertise can come in handy.
4 Healthy Sleep Tips for New Parents by Dr. Michael Breus
Sure, you can tough it out through tiredness and fatigue. Alternatively, you can adopt some practices to sleep like a baby.
Everything you do, you do better with a good night’s sleep.— Dr. Michael Breus, trainer of Mindvalley’s The Mastery of Sleep Quest
Let’s take a look at the four sleep tips for new parents recommended by Dr. Breus.
1. Rest when your child is sleeping
More often than not, new parents take the opportunity to do all the things they don’t get to do when their newborn is awake. Things like cleaning up the house, taking a shower, cooking, and so on.
While it’s an opportune time to get things done, the mess can wait. Your health is much more important.
Dr. Breus’ advice: “If you’re short on sleep already and not getting enough rest at night, to be honest, you’d be better off taking time to rest yourself rather than going into overdrive while your child is sleeping.”
2. Go to bed at the right time for you
Not everyone is made to go “early to bed, early to rise.” Nor are we made to be night owls.
Everybody’s sleep needs are different. And the eight hours per night that we’re told to get? It’s a myth, according to the Sleep Doctor.
That’s right, not everybody needs eight hours. By right, each person has an individual preferred sleep schedule based on their unique circadian rhythm.
Dr. Breus’ advice: “A healthy, sustainable sleep routine is about getting enough sleep and about getting sleep at the right times for your body.”
3. Stick to your prescribed bedtime
Speaking of “the right times for your body,” how do you know what they are?
Since our circadian rhythm is unique, some require less than eight hours of sleep each night. Dr. Breus, himself, gets six hours—and he’s the Sleep Doctor.
So calculate how many hours you really need, depending on the socially determined time and the time you naturally wake up. Find out what your ideal sleeping routine is by taking the free chronotype test.
For instance, if you need to be awake at 7 a.m. to go about your day (i.e., work, take the kids to school, etc.), this is the socially determined time. Count seven and a half hours (the recommended amount of sleep) backward from 7 a.m., which makes 11:30 p.m. your new bedtime.
Now, note when you naturally wake up. If you find yourself awake at 6:30 a.m., then perhaps you only need seven hours of sleep instead.
Dr. Breus’ advice: “By maintaining your own healthy sleep routine, you’re not just feeding your body the rest that it needs to function well; you’re also modeling the importance of sleep for your children.”
4. Prioritize your own sleep
There’s no doubt that sleep is an essential aspect of your overall well-being. And it goes back to the first point: take time to rest rather than going on overdrive.
Cleaning up the house, finishing up on work, and even revenge bedtime procrastination well into the night can seriously impact your body and brain. So it’s best to lock into your circadian rhythm and ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
And if you’re having trouble winding down, try sleep meditation or supplements.
Dr. Breus’ advice: “Making sleep a daily priority can help you sleep more and better on a regular and consistent basis.”
Sleep Is Self-Love
If you’re looking for more sleep tips for new parents or a personalized remedy for better sleep, head to Mindvalley. As a Member, you have full access to The Mastery of Sleep Quest with Dr. Breus and interactive interviews with experts in all fields of personal growth.
What’s even better is that in this world of parenthood, thankfully, you’re not alone. Generations of parents can sympathize with balancing being a new parent and finding time to snooze. Even the parents of the Mindvalley tribe.
Learning how to put a baby to sleep is one thing, but learning how to put yourself to sleep is another. And Mindvalley can help you there.