How to Deal with Sleep Deprivation After Baby

Along with all the joys of caring for your newborn comes the harsh reality of extreme sleep deprivation. With round-the-clock feedings, constant diaper changes, and unsettled nights, getting enough restorative sleep can feel like an impossible dream.

The good news is that with some natural tips, you can tackle this sleep deprivation and get more restful and peaceful sleep. Here are some tips to help new moms and dads get their sleep back:

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Create a calm bedtime routine like taking a warm bath, reading, or gentle yoga to promote better sleep. Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and free of electronic distractions. Go to bed and wake up at consistent times each day (when possible). These good sleep habits can help regulate your circadian rhythms.

Mind Your Doshas

According to Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine, we all have a unique constitution made up of three mind-body principles called doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. When out of balance, these doshas can affect our sleep quality and quantity. For instance, a Vata imbalance often manifests as insomnia, anxiety, and a "weird" feeling at night. Nursing moms should eat warm, soupy foods like stews and avoid cold, raw items that can aggravate Vata. Massaging babies with warm sesame oil is also calming for Vata types.

Follow Your Circadian Rhythms

Our bodies operate according to a master circadian clock synchronized with the 24-hour cycle of light and dark. Taking advantage of these natural dips in energy levels can help increase sleep efficiency. For most, the optimal sleep window is between 10 pm and 6 am. So, when the baby is napping, take that prime afternoon window from 1 pm to 3 pm to rest and recharge yourself.

Bank Your Sleep

Since uninterrupted sleep is such a luxury in those early months, you'll need to find creative ways to accumulate those precious Zzzzs through "sleep banking." When your baby naps, lie down and rest too - even 20-30 minutes can be restorative. Sleep when your baby sleeps, day or night. Cat naps really do add up!

Mind Your Diet

What you eat can have a profound effect on your sleep quality and energy levels. Avoid heavy, hard-to-digest foods close to bedtime. Stay hydrated, but minimize liquids before bed to prevent night wakings to use the bathroom. Foods like warm milk, chamomile tea, nuts, bananas, and tart cherry juice contain natural sleep-promoting compounds. In Ayurveda, certain herbs like Ashwagandha, Brahmi, and Jatamansi are revered for their ability to induce calming sleep. But always check with your doctor before taking any supplements when breastfeeding.

Call for Backup

You can't be "on'' 24/7, so don't be afraid to ask friends and family for help, whether it's getting household chores done, running errands, or giving you a chance to catch a nap. Making sleep a priority is essential for your wellbeing and your baby's. Enlist your partner in baby duties so you can trade off night time shifts.

Lower Stress Through Meditation

The mind-body connection is key in Ayurveda. When we're stressed and anxious, our bodies produce higher levels of cortisol and adrenaline that can disrupt sleep. That's why it's so important for exhausted new parents to take breaks and practice relaxing rituals like deep breathing, meditation, gentle yoga, or just sitting quietly. Even 5-10 minutes per day can make a big difference in lowering your stress baseline.



Be Kind to Yourself Most importantly, go easy on yourself during this intense period of early parenthood. Sleep deprivation is par for the course, but know that it's only temporary. Celebrate small victories, whether it's your baby sleeping a 4-hour stretch or you getting a chance to shower that day. Each phase passes sooner than you think. With some self-care strategies and creative snoozing, you'll get your sleep back eventually.

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1. How can I create a good sleep environment?

Ans. Maintain good sleep hygiene by keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and free from electronic distractions. Go to bed and wake up at consistent times each day to help regulate your circadian rhythms.

2. What dietary tips can help with sleep?

Ans. Avoid heavy, hard-to-digest foods close to bedtime. Eat sleep-promoting foods like warm milk, chamomile tea, nuts, bananas, and tart cherry juice. 

3. How can I take advantage of my natural sleep cycles?

Ans. Try to sleep when your baby sleeps, even just cat naps of 20-30 minutes. The optimal sleep window for most is between 10pm and 6am, so rest during that prime afternoon dip from 1-3pm when possible.

4. How does reducing stress help with sleep?

Ans. When stressed, our bodies produce higher cortisol and adrenaline levels that disrupt sleep. Practice relaxing rituals like deep breathing, meditation, gentle yoga, or sitting quietly for 5-10 minutes per day to lower your stress baseline.

5. How can others help me get more rest?

Ans. Don't be afraid to ask friends and family for help with household chores, errands, or watching the baby so you can nap. Enlist your partner in trading off night duty to ensure you both get restful sleep.

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