Sleep deprived mom

12 Ways to Cope as a Sleep Deprived Mom

The day I brought my son home was the happiest for me and the culmination of my pregnancy. I’d had a difficult pregnancy characterized by occasional bleeding, extreme sickness, and anxiety, and couldn’t wait for it to come to an end.

The first week was a breeze with my son sleeping the typical eighteen hours of newborns and only waking to cry for food or a diaper change. However, the second week ushered the start of what became one of the most trying periods of my life.

Sleep deprived mom

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He transitioned to sleeping fitfully; crying most of the day and refusing to be pacified. Of course, the result was I instantly became a sleep deprived mom since he cried at night too.

Understanding Sleep Deprivation in New Moms

Every new mom will experience some level of sleep deprivation and that’s because of the new change in their life.

A baby has been added to the family and while so small, this tiny fellow becomes the boss and starts calling all the shots.

Newborns sleep for up to eighteen hours a day, which is supposed to be great news for the new mom, right?


They sleep in short bursts of 2- 3 hours at a time, even at night and this can disrupt your regular sleep pattern.

Why do newborns wake up so often?!

One of the reasons newborns wake up so often is the fact they have to feed often. Being so small, they have a corresponding small stomach and can only hold so much. They need to be fed every two to three hours to stay full.

Another reason is that some babies suffer from colic, a painful condition that typically begins around 2 -3 weeks after they are born and causes severe distress and discomfort.

Colic, among other reasons, will make your baby cry incessantly, leading to a loss of sleep for both of you.

Lastly, you may find yourself sleeping less due to the imbalance of hormones in your system. After delivery, your levels of estrogen and progesterone drop, leading to a disruption in your sleep-wake cycle. You might notice you are more sleepy during the day and alert at night which will, of course, lead to low-quality sleep.

While babies need up to 18 hours of sleep, you only need up to 7 or 8 hours each night.

However, studies have found most new parents, moms especially get only 5 -6 hours of sleep each night. Now, while losing 1 to 2 hours of sleep a night might not seem like much, these hours can add up pretty quickly to cause what is known as sleep debt.

When you lose two hours of sleep every day for a week this amounts to fourteen hours, which is the equivalent of two full days of no sleep.When you lose two hours of

sleep every day for a week this amounts to fourteen hours, which is the equivalent of two full days of no sleep.

Signs You Are a Sleep Deprived Mom

As a sleep deprived mom, losing just a few hours might not seem like much or bring about any obvious issues, however, building up a sleep debt will.

Here are some signs you are a sleep deprived mom:

  1. You are irritably most of the time, even for no reason.

This was the first sign that I needed sleep. I found I was easily irritated and was quick to snap for even the littlest things.

  1. You are also likely to give poor judgment on issues. You don’t want to be making major decisions at this time.
  2. Memory loss will also be a thing you will likely experience. Luckily, you won’t forget most of the things that affect your baby, only those everyday things you’ve always taken for granted.
  3. Your attention span will also go down and this is understandable. There is no way a person can be fully attentive when their body is screaming for sleep anyway.
  4. You are also likely to be emotionally stressed, besides being constantly fatigued.
  5. There’s bound to be a poor risk assessment most, if not all the time.
  6. Finally, you will be depressed. This is depression that will come on gradually and slowly build until you find you are experiencing full-blown postpartum depression.

Some more severe effects of sleep deprivation include:

  • Cerebral shrinkage
  • A slowed immune system
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Digestive issues
  • Spine misalignment
  • Mood swings
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular complications

How to Manage This Time of Your Life

How do you recover from a sleep debt after having a baby?

Sleep deprivation and sleep debt won’t just go away just because you wish them to. As a sleep deprived mom, you would have to make a conscious effort to pay back your sleep debt.

Here are some proven ways that should help:

1) Rearrange Your Work Schedule

At this point, your health and your baby should be your priority; every other thing should come next.

Your mental and physical health are important and these are hinged on how well-rested you are.

If you work a regular schedule that is right now interfering with your sleep, you might need to reschedule your work hours to fit in with your now current tight schedule.

So, instead of getting to work by 9 am, opting for a more flexible work hour, where you can work whenever and from home will serve much better.

Related: 7 Best Sleep Aids for Breastfeeding Moms

2) Sleep When Baby Sleeps

You are a sleep deprived mom at this point because your baby is calling all the shots; he decides when you eat, and bathe to how much sleep you can get daily.

Most babies sleep during the day and stay alert at night and this can be stressful for the new mom. To get around this, try sleeping when your baby sleep, that way, you would be gradually paying back your sleep debt until you wake up one day and discover you are fully rested.

3) Don’t Allow for Visitors

Another cause of sleep-deprivation is the influx of friends and family, who have been eager to meet the newborn and also see you and will be trouping in at different times of the day.

While you’d be grateful for this show of love, these visits can leave you spent and greatly cut into the hours you would otherwise have spent sleeping.

A way around this?

For me, since I couldn’t very well tell people to stay away without likely offending a few, what I did was stay for a week at a friend’s. No one knew where I was and this allowed me to get the rest needed rest at the time.

By the time I returned, I was sufficiently rested and mentally equipped to deal with visitors.

I also informed visitors via regular WhatsApp status updates to pre-inform me if they were going to be visiting to know if I would be around, making it possible for me to somewhat decide the times of visits.

Related: New Mom Care Package: 25 Thoughtful Gifts She’ll Love

4) Get Others to Help

As a sleep deprived mom, you need all the help you can get. Thankfully, most people are going to offer theirs, especially during those first few weeks after you get back.

There will be people on hand to help with chores and some bringing home-cooked meals over.

Sadly, things will soon settle into the usual pretty quickly with everyone believing you are sufficiently healed to resume your regular life.

However, if you still feel overwhelmed and need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Your partner should also chip in when he can. It takes a city to raise a healthy kid and this is one of those times.

5) Opt for Part Time

Going back to work when your leave expires can also feel overwhelming. If you feel you still require some time to fully adjust to this drastic change in your life – and it is that – you might want to consider switching to part-time or working remotely, if your company makes provisions for these.

If you are self-employed then transitioning to part-time would be a lot easier.

6) Hire a Housekeeper

A housekeeper will get the house looking as tidy as you want without you having to expend any energy.

This is a great option if you are a neatness freak like myself and love the home looking spick and span always.

7) Hire a Baby Sitter

Like a housekeeper, a babysitter will also create ample time for you to catch up on your sleep debt.

Some people balk at the idea of a stranger with their newborn though. For this, you could work out an arrangement where a trusted friend or relative comes over for a few hours at a specific time so you can catch some rest.

8) A Virtual Assistant Could Also be Helpful

A virtual assistant is a sleep deprived mom’s new best friend. If you work from home, creating content and other work things, you will find having someone cover some basics can be of immense help.

The virtual assistant will be to your career what a housekeeper will be to your home.

9) Practice Relaxation

Practicing relaxation reduces the activities of stress hormones, lowers blood pressure, and improves your blood sugar, all the things you need right now.

High levels of stress can make it harder for you to fall asleep and in some cases, could also affect your quality of sleep so you want to have this taken care of.

10) Daily Exercise Improves Sleep Quality

You also want to make exercising a priority as exercising improves your quality of sleep.

However, not every exercise is suitable at this time so check with your doctor before deciding on one.

11) Watch your Food Intake

Certain foods, especially ones high in caffeine like coffee, green tea, and energy drinks, as well as acidic foods and alcohol, can impair with how easily you fall asleep and the quality of sleep you get.

You should do away with most completely and take others in moderation.

As a breastfeeding mom you should take no more than 300 mg of coffee daily, that’s 2 -3 cups, since a little of whatever you eat passes on to your baby.

Alcohol in your baby’s bloodstream, especially when this becomes a norm, impairs his brain development.

12) Make Any Needed Lifestyle Adjustments

Lifestyle habits like the use of nicotine and other hard substances and eating late should also be adjusted or eliminated for you to get better quality sleep as a sleep deprived mom.

Other useful tips that can help that will help you as a sleep deprived mom include:

  • Listen to relaxing music.
  • Get a night nurse.
  • Express breastmilk in bulk, if you are breastfeeding so family or friends could step in for a few hours while you catch some sleep.
  • Take chamomile herbal tea which is effective against insomnia. Most herbal teas are caffeine-free, so this leaves you covered.

Frequently Asked Questions for New and Sleep Deprived Moms

  • Why is it hard for new moms to sleep?

New moms find it hard to sleep for a few reasons, some of which include the drop in the estrogen and progesterone balance, disrupting their sleep-wake cycle, the newborn having an irregular sleep pattern, and also the likelihood of the baby having colic.

Any of these factors is enough to steal sleep from a new mom.

  • What lifestyle choices cause sleep deprivation?

Lifestyle choices like high caffeine intake nicotine use and substance abuse can and will disrupt your regular sleep.

Moms who take this will find they struggle to fall asleep easily and in the event they do, the sleep is fitful, leaving them less refreshed than they should be.

  • What lack of sleep does in postpartum mom?

Lack of sleep leaves you susceptible to a few health challenges or complications, including postpartum depression, memory loss, and a less effective immune system, among others. Your risks for these conditions are higher as a sleep deprived mom, so you want to take care.

  • How many hours of sleep do new moms need?

Every adult needs 7 -8 hours of sleep each night to feel refreshed and function optimally. A new mom needs the same number of hours or just slightly more since she would be taking on a few additional responsibilities.

Caring for a newborn can be challenging and tasking, especially when you have no one helping. You, therefore need all the rest you can get and should take it whenever you can.

  • Why am I so tired 2 months postpartum?

Besides caring for your baby round the clock, a few other things can all add up to make you feel tired all the time. These include not getting enough sleep, an imbalance in your hormones, inadequate sleep, and nutrient insufficiency.

This condition can last from when your baby is born up to three months postpartum. Thankfully, there are a few things you can be done to remedy it.

Recommended Reading

Preparing for Motherhood: 8 Ways to Prepare to be a New Mom

How to Get My Baby to Sleep Through the Night: 5 Proven Tips That Work

Making Time for Yourself as a Mom (11 Genius Ways)

14 Amazing Self Care Tips for Moms

33 Fun Facts About Babies

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