By: Trisha Bautista
The universal truth of motherhood: once you cross the line from expectant mom to full-fledged mom, sleep will never be the same.
From 6-8 (or more) hours of sleep daily with occasional days of sleeping in, you now get anywhere from zero to maybe six hours of sleep per night, and never uninterrupted, especially when you have an infant or toddler.
Don’t worry, Mama! It won’t last forever—you’ll get your hours of sleep back when your babies need you less. Until then, savor the time you have with your little ones when their worlds still revolve around you—and try these hacks to survive sleep deprivation in the meantime.
1. Try co-sleeping.
During the first three weeks of my baby’s life, my husband and I insisted that the baby would sleep in the crib. Despite protests from our parents and older relatives, we insisted that no, the earlier we train him, the better.
We were so wrong. Those first three weeks were literally a blur—neither of us got much sleep, and we would go through a nightly cycle of feeding the baby for an hour, then trying to carefully transfer him to the crib without waking him. Just as our eyes would finally close, the baby would start crying, repeating the whole cycle until it was daytime and he was up for the day. Amidst a cloud of exhaustion and sleep-deprivation, one night, I was just so damn tired that I put him in the bed between us. I also finally got the guts to feed him from a side lying position. It literally changed our lives—from then on, the most we got up at night was twice. The baby was much more content feeling the our body heat and just being closer to us, and everyone got much-needed rest.
2. Eat breakfast.
People are significantly more energized and have better cognitive function when they eat breakfast, according to research. To combat the brain fog brought on by a lack of sleep, make it a point to eat breakfast—even if you’re in a rush to work. If you must, eat when the baby eats, or take shifts with your husband or nanny. It’ll help prevent you feeling tired and sluggish throughout the day.
3. Make your morning coffee (or tea) a non-negotiable.
Go have your cup of coffee, but don’t overdo it (if you drink more than 400g a day, you’ll have a hard time sleeping at all). Have your morning cup in peace—no nursing, no feeding baby, no errands, nothing. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, make sure your partner or helper gives you at least 10 minutes of peace in the morning to allow you to have quiet time alone. Quiet time over a morning cup of joe (or tea, or even just water), can do a LOT, not just to counter sleep-deprivation, but for your sanity, too.
4. Have a light lunch.
Although sleep-deprivation often makes us want to just eat our stress and tiredness away, having a heavy lunch will make your lack-of-sleep worse. After a rush of sugar usually caused by heavy meals, our body’s sugar levels also immediately crash, leaving us sluggish, bloated, and often even sleepier than we were at breakfast. Keep your lunch light and get up to take a short walk mid-afternoon to wake you up.
5. Delegate tasks.
We don’t just mean tasks for baby and baby care, but the same applies to your household chores and work responsibilities, too. We moms have a tendency to do (or try to do literally everything. Learn to delegate some tasks, whether it’s chores or childcare to other people. If and when you’re especially sleep-deprived, ask someone else to take over for at least one night so you can get some uninterrupted sleep.
6. Take a breath of fresh air.
According to numerous studies, exposure to nature helps restore your mental energy. We often feel mentally as well as physically tired when we’re running on zero sleep. Battle the tendency to be scatter-brained and distracted by taking a few minutes to go outside and breathe some air. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of the city—head to a balcony, rooftop, or a pocket garden for a breather.
For more articles with tips on sleep, click on the links below.
Trisha Bautista is a writer, editor, and PR practitioner with articles published in many of the country’s top magazines and lifestyle websites. She’s a mother to an eight months-old baby boy, and is constantly trying to find the time to stay fit and healthy while balancing married life, motherhood, career, and a social life. She enjoys discovering health, fitness, beauty, and shopping hacks to maximize time and money, and loves the occasional wine night.