September 27, 2020
Sleep Tips For New Motherhood & Beyond
My biggest fear in becoming a new mother was sleeplessness. Of all the things there are to be intimidated by as a new parent, for me being exhausted topped the list.
After having navigating insomnia as a child, followed by anxiety as a young adult, I finally learned how to be an amazing sleeper in my early 20’s. I’ve never slept a lot but, I cherish the hours I do spend in deep rest. And let’s be honest, a bad night’s sleep definitely shows up on your face and in your mood!
Already many months into my journey as a mother, I can attest, I am tired. And, it’s ok. It’s surprisingly ok. While I might not be receiving continuous hours of deep sleep (yet!), I am still receiving adequate rest because of the specific habits and practices I’ve put into place over the last 15 years.
So, here are a few tips for new moms and anyone else out there struggling with sleep issues and looking to improve the overall quality of their well-being.
1. Meditate: I know this sounds crazy. “I’m a new mom with no time to spare and you want me to meditate?!” YES. I want you to carve time out to meditate every single day. No matter what. No excuses. Even if it’s just 5 minutes while sitting on the floor in your bathroom or just before bed.
Meditation teaches you how to focus your attention in a specific way, learning how to release the endless inner dialogue and list of “to-do’s.” This is a key skill you need to build as a new parent. When your head hits the pillow, you need to be able to fall asleep with ease and precision.
Inevitably when you head to bed, your mind starts to narrate all the unattended chores and emails. Meditation will give you the skill necessary to learn to point your attention back towards sleep, allowing you to fall asleep more quickly, ultimately receiving greater rest.
It’s important to remember that even if we aren’t fully asleep, if we are in bed with our eyes closed and lying still, we are still receiving rest which is beneficial for our minds and bodies. Additionally, meditation teaches you how to better self-regulate and studies have shown that mothers who meditate have children who are better able to self-regulate.
Research has also shown that meditation, especially if done midday, can leave you feeling more energized than a nap. While meditation cannot replace sleep, time spent meditating is actually the equivalent to receiving an adequate amount of rest so make sure meditation is an uncompromising part of your new motherhood routine.
2. Exercise: A little bit is enough and will make a tremendous difference in your mood. This isn’t a suggestion to help you drop the baby weight or get your pre-baby body back. Movement is key to your mood and your overall emotional health.
A 20 minute gentle yoga session, a quick walk around the block – whatever your cup of tea – get your body moving a little bit each day. When you move your body, you get the “feel good hormones” flowing and this is key in the early months of motherhood to help prevent or ease baby blues, Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Anxiety.
A tiny bit of sweat can be the switch that turns your entire day around. I’ve been surprised in these early, sleepless days of new motherhood how a brief workout will reenergize me and give me the boost I need to navigate the rest of the day ahead.
3. Go outside: Take yourself and that sweet baby into the sun. You both need Vitamin D and you both need help with your circadian rhythms. Exposure to nature benefits both of your sleep rhythms, microbiomes and overall moods.
Baby wearing is also a great way for you and your little one to get outside. Your baby can take a nap while you walk or enjoy a gentle hike. Plus, when you baby wear your little one in a carrier, they receive the benefits of being close to you and off of their back, which is important for their developing physiology.
Give these suggestions a try and see how your overall sleep and rest improve. Below are some recommended practices that will help your sleep journey as well: