On average, new mums get four hours sleep per night and that’s if you’re lucky.
The thing is, you tell yourself it’s o.k, it’s just a phase and you can survive. You might look half dead, have a cornflake in your hair and wouldn’t even attempt to drive a car but it’ll be fine. However, there’s a point that we all hit, when we feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
Exhaustion can affect everyone differently. What’s more, when you do have a chance to get some shut-eye, hormones are raging and your brain is whirring, making it extremely difficult to drift off. Strangely, the other half never seems to have this problem.
There are things you can do to keep yourself alive and encourage quality sleep when the opportunity presents itself. Here’s the top five.
Give yourself a break. We all know it’s not always possible to ‘sleep when baby sleeps’. In fact, I dare someone to say that to my face and live to tell the tale. Instead, do something realistic and give yourself some guilt-free time at least once a day.
Make a drink (hot coffee is hard to come by once you are a parent) or something to eat. You could watch some mind-numbing telly, WhatsApp your friends, or run a bath - a quick, quick bath. Just don’t try them all at the same time in your sleepy slumber. The washing, cleaning, hoovering blah blah blah can totally wait.
Attempt the above and you’ll suddenly feel a sense of accomplishment which will ease the stress at bedtime. The small things really help to make a big difference.
Totally guilty of this but bright lights, particularly blue light from electronics, stimulate the brain and so make it more difficult to get to sleep. We are currently trying a digital downtime after nine. 9pm, the phones are switched off and my husband and I actually talk without being distracted.
I absolutely would not be alive if it wasn’t for botanical sleep mist. I really struggled with insomnia after baby number two was born. I found it so stressful because I knew that in between feeds I needed as much sleep as possible but also had a full-of-energy toddler needing my attention. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get to sleep and it nearly broke me. My friend suggested I tried lavender oil in the bath but after a bit of research, I discovered a blend of botanical oils in one pillow spray. The Sun.day of London sleep mist saved me.
When you are up multiple times during the night, you can’t just run a bath, make a warming cup of herbal tea or light a candle (because let’s face it, it’s a tad dangerous when you are a stressed out new mum). You can however, spray a little bit of goodness on your pillow and relax as the 12 sleep enhancing essential oils work their magic.
“But first coffee” has become some sort of religious movement and I’m all for it. Just one shot of dark and dreamy caffeine and the world seems like a better place sometimes. Having said that, drinking water has many more benefits. Your body becomes more alert and better equipped to digest food and burn calories more efficiently. A glass of cold water before bed is said to encourage the balance of hormones, energy levels, muscles and joints to encourage a natural sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation has found that people sleep significantly better and are more alert during the day if they do 150 minutes of exercise each week. My first thought was ‘As if! not in this lifetime’ but that’s actually 20 minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be a high intensity session each day or marathon training, it can be yoga, walking the dog or something else quite light. With two under two, I’m never going to be able to commit to daily exercise but I could probably stretch to getting out for a walk during the week.
So as I prepare to chill out before yet another night of fragmented sleep (my five month old is still up twice a night) I am also telling myself that when the little sleep thief is a teenager, I'll struggle to get her out of bed and that's a guaranteed lie in. Only 13 years to go.