10 Ways To Prepare for the Sleepless Nights AheadKatlyn Joy | 1, October 2013
Sometimes it seems nature takes the lead in this area, by making it tough to sleep the night through at the end of your pregnancy. How often do you wake up because of leg cramps, indigestion, a full bladder or a backache? This taste of disrupted sleep is just a foreshadowing of the days and nights to come. Trust me, it will be hard to tell day from night for awhile.
To get ready for this tough period as a new parent, learn how to maximize your sleep and create a sleep-friendly environment. Here are a few tips.
Keep a regular schedule whenever possible.
Being faithful with your sleep helps keep your body refreshed and renewed which means you won't enter the newborn period already playing catch up.
Have a nighttime routine.
You know how your sister always reads to your nieces before tucking them in, then sings "You are My Sunshine," to them as they snuggle down for the night? You need your own version of a tuck in. What the routine is for you, you have to discover. Maybe it's a cup of herbal tea, reading a chapter of a novel, then turning down the lights while you watching the news. Whatever it is, try to maintain it. It'll be interrupted with the new baby for sure, but maintaining as much as possible will help your sleep.
Don't leave the TV on overnight.
I know many of us get addicted to the noise and flickering light, but it's likely to interfere with your sleep cycles and it's also a given at some point some loud infomercial will blare you awake at about 3 a.m.
Avoid caffeine before bed.
How long before bed will depend on your body, but at least a few hours before avoid coffee, caffeinated drinks, and chocolate. You probably have been eliminating or greatly reducing caffeine since you're pregnant, but even after baby you should go slow with this substance.
Don't get in a pulse-raising exercise before bed.
If you want to do some gentle stretches or relaxing yoga poses, that's perfectly fine, and may even be helpful. However, an aerobic activity will have you too hyped to drift off soon.
Enjoy relaxing and even boring pastimes before turning in.
Do a crossword puzzle, listen to some music, or take a bath. Relaxing will help your body prepare for sleep, help you fall asleep faster, and reduce stress.
Don't eat a big hearty meal too close to bedtime.
Your body is going to be so busy digesting it won't work as well at getting you to sleep. Plus an overfull tummy is not happy lying down, and you might suffer from indigestion.
Make your bed a special zone reserved for fooling around or sleep only.
Make sure your bed is as comfy as possible with soft sheets, fluffy and plenteous pillows, and keep your bedroom a comfortable temperature as well. Being too warm or cool will interfere with your sleep.
Consider scents that are conducive to sleep.
Lavender and vanilla scents have been know to produce a relaxed state. Spray your pillow with lavender or use some vanilla potpourri in your room to create a nice peaceful atmosphere.
Keep noise and light to a minimum in your sleeping space.
If your partner likes to listen to music at bedtime, hand him his earbuds. Get heavier drapes in your bedroom to block the sun from getting you up too soon. Some women swear by sleep masks.
After Baby is Born, Protect Your Sleep
After baby, you will be working your schedule around a tiny infant. Such power for such a little being! Take baby's lead. If baby is sleeping, you better at least be resting with feet up, eyes closed and your focus on nothing more than the soft sounds of inhalations and exhalations.
Do not give into temptation to "get something done" if baby is resting. Don't run a quick load of laundry. Don't watch TV. Don't make phone calls. Rest, relax and if at all possible, sleep.
If someone asks how they can help you out, don't shrug and smile while lying, "Nothing." Tell them your house could use a vacuuming, your laundry done, the baby held while you take a nap. Be honest about the ways you could be assisted. If they weren't being sincere in their offer, they will learn not to offer again.
Enlist your partner's help whether you are breastfeeding or not. Sharing feeding duties in the overnight hours is a huge help for new moms. You could pump a bottle if you're a nursing mom. You can switch off feedings, or if you are truly sleep deprived, switch off nights so you can get a full night's sleep once and awhile.
Continue eating as healthy as you did while pregnant, and ramp up the exercise. Taking good care of yourself is vital.
Finally, keep perspective. This rough patch of sleep deprivation will not last. Soon, baby will be sleeping the night through!
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