My Baby is Alseep...Now What about Me?Motherhood
Your baby is finally sleeping through the night or you have a postpartum doula taking the night shift to relieve you. Ahh...peace, quiet, and bed!
You lie there staring at the ceiling, waiting for that sleep you have pined for to take over, and...nothing. Your busy day, combined with your body becoming adjusted to constant waking, has taken a toll on your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. How can you retrain yourself to fall asleep, and get a solid rest tonight?
Take a few minutes to make your bedroom an environment conducive to sleep. Blackout curtains or an eye mask will help you sleep in longer, and some people enjoy diffusing a calming scent such as lavender. Tidy the room and make your bed attractive, and put all of the baby items in a nice basket. If you need anything during the night such as water, snacks, tissues, or your breast pump, arrange them on the nightstand so you don't have to physically leave the bed during the night. Keep the room cool so you can stay comfortable under the weight of the covers.
ELIMINATE NIGHTTIME SCREEN USE
You might think it harmless to scroll Facebook on your phone under the covers until you eventually get drowsy, but recent studies have actually shown that screen usage—specifically the blue short-wavelength light such as on our cell phones—significantly suppresses our body's production of melatonin. That's right, the hormone that tells us when it's time to go to sleep! Turning off the television and putting your phone away by 9 pm may help your melatonin production right itself, not to mention reduce over-stimulation to your brain from notifications and auto-play videos.
EARLY TO BED
Just as experts recommend an early bedtime for your infant, when you need to catch up on restorative sleep you should consider tucking in as well as soon as they're down. Dishes can wait—your health and sanity is the most important thing! Once your baby is safely fed, changed, and snoring for the night, or when your postpartum doula arrives for her shift, you should go through your own bedtime routine (a hot bath and a chapter of a book does wonders!) at that time. Don't worry, there will come a day when you've caught up and feel rejuvenated enough to Netflix 'til midnight again.
This time the sound machine or white noise app isn't for your baby...it's for you. Your senses are fine-tuned to jolt awake if your baby makes the slightest noise or movement, so a little background noise will help you stay asleep for longer stretches of time. If you have a doula over, turn it up loud—if not, it should be just loud enough that you can hear if your baby cries (but not every little snore or toot). A fan is also a great choice, especially if your bedroom tends to get warm.
By taking a little extra care with your sleeping habits, you can get back on schedule and get the restorative sleep you need to be alert and patient with your baby during the day. Sweet dreams!
Loree Siermachesky works as a multi-certified labour and postpartum doula, certified Lamaze childbirth educator, certified breastfeeding counselor, certified placenta encapsulation specialist and a certified car seat technician in Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. She has had the honour of attending over 1400 births in the last 20 years. She is well-known and greatly respected by the medical providers in Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Brooks, Taber, and Calgary. She cares deeply for this profession and even more for her clientele, honoring them in whatever method of birth they choose, or helping them transition to new parenthood as they wish.