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The Importance of Sleep - For Parents

Many of us will know that feeling of stumbling through the day like a zombie after a hectic day of changing nappies and multiple feeds - but it's even harder to function when you haven't had an uninterrupted night of sleep for a while... So what can you do to help your family sleep?

As a new parent life is never dull. In fact, the phrase 'running on adrenaline' I'm pretty sure was created just for us! There's the constant paranoia, the endless feeding schedule (which doesn't seem to run to any schedule actually!) and the 24/7 alertness to all things that could be a danger, as well as anything that clearly isn't a danger but 'you never know'. Phew!

So, when you're trying to deal with this whirlwind that is your new 'normal', it's understandable if you seem to be struggling more than usual when you haven't been sleeping well. Or not sleeping for long enough periods. Or not sleeping at all...

According to Jeffrey M. Ellenbogen of the American Academy of Neurology, sleep loss causes profound impairments in cognitive and behavioral performance. He concludes his findings of a sleep experiment by saying;

"...experimental paradigm has been successfully employed to show the benefit of sleep for several forms of neural processing, including insight formation, novel-language perception, visual discrimination, and motor skills."

So what he's basically saying is that if we don't get enough sleep, we can't process our thoughts properly, which explains why we might speak gibberish sometimes, we'll struggle to read our little cherubs a bedtime story, and we'll potentially spill every single cup of coffee we make trying to combat the afore mentioned lack of sleep - argh!


So, what can we do to help ourselves?

Ok, we've mentioned a few problems but now we need to focus on potential solutions. Lack of sleep is not going to disappear overnight, however there are some changes we can all make to our routine, lifestyle and attitude which can help us to see a real improvement in our sleep patterns as parents.

1 - Accept Help

Although it's a good idea not to fret over those non-essential jobs around the house, it's also a great idea to accept help from family and friends when it’s offered; or if it isn't offered, just ask . Being a new parent certainly isn’t a time to take on the world alone. As part of my Postnatal Doula service I am often to be found helping new parents with cooking healthy meals for the whole family, or just spending time with baby so the parents can rest. Speaking of rest...

2 - Grab A Nap

It's tempting to try and whizz through household chores whilst your baby is sleeping, but trust me - a 20 to 30 minute nap will do you the world of good, and give you a mini boost without causing that groggy feeling you get after a 3 hour siesta!

3 - Turn That Phone Off

We've all been told a thousand times that the blue light from our electronic devices can make it harder for us to fall asleep. But according to the Bluebell Baby Monitor group, it also affcets how deeply we sleep, so that not only are we getting less time asleep but the quality of sleep that we do get is pants. Quite simply, social media can wait - stay away from your hpone for at least half an hour before you go to bed, and enjoy the difference it makes.

4 - Nourishment Is Key

When your body is fuelled, your brain is fuelled. And no, I don't mean with thefatty and sugary treats that we are sometimes guilty of grabbing under the umbrella of excuses that amount to being 'too busy'. The time it takes to grab an apple or yogurt is the same amount of time it takes to open a packet of crisps, yet the result for our energy levels will be very different. As mentioned in point 1, I often cook nutritious plant based meals for my parents as part of my Postnatal Doula service, so feel free to give me a shout if you'd like to know more!


If you'd like any more information or advice about getting help with any of the above points as a new parent, please contact me to have a chat - I'd love to help!

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