How to Get Quality Sleep as New Parents

How to Get Quality Sleep as New Parents


Dec. 16 2020, Updated 8:24 p.m. ET

A newborn baby is a gift. But the long nights, endless crying, and all-hours feedings that accompany them?

Not so much.

New parent status aside, your sleep is as important as it’s always been. Here’s how to get better, more restful sleep so you can continue to be the superhero parent you are.

Split the Load (Evenly!)

If you have a co-parent in the picture (specifically one who lives in the house with you and your baby, night after night), it’s beyond essential that you each carry the burden of nighttime child care equally.

This may be easier said than done when you’re both exhausted, so consider creating a system before you’re in the thick of things:

  • Take the simplest 50/50 split approach—one night on, one night off.
  • Divide into morning and night shifts—the night owl takes care of anything before 3:00 a.m., while the early bird covers everything after that. This way, both birds (or parents, as the case may be) get at least four or so hours of (mostly) uninterrupted sleep.
  • Come to a compromise by taking both of your schedules into account—mom gets the night off before important work presentations, and dad is exempt from baby duties during final exam season. This requires open, honest communication about what you really need from the other person (and a shared calendar app for family coordination).

Optimize Your Sleep Environment

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Creating a healthy environment for sleep is important for anyone, but when your time is as precious as it is for new parents, you have to make every second count—or you’ll be counting sheep until daybreak. Invest in these sleep optimization essentials:

  • Supportive mattress – Sleep Number beds are the ultimate compromise (and sometimes, relationship savior). You can adjust each side’s firmness independently—one of the only times that everyone wins.
  • Proper temperature – A lower temperature—around 65°F—is said to help achieve higher quality sleep. Invest in a thermostat timer that automatically lowers during the night and raises again before you wake up.
  • Shoulder relief pillow – Our sleeping position makes more of an impact than many people might think. Use a pillow for shoulder pain to alleviate any nighttime discomfort that results in restless or incomplete sleep.

Sleep When The Baby’s Asleep

Okay, so your newborn’s sleep schedule isn’t exactly what your doctor would recommend, but in times of hardship, you take what you can get.

If you’re not getting restful sleep during the night, you’ll need to make up those hours at another time. And if you always have to be awake when your little one is awake, then the only time you’re off the clock is when they’re—you guessed it—asleep.

As soon as those teeny tiny eyelids flutter shut, that’s your cue to crawl under the covers and catch some Zs of your own.

Encourage Them to Fall Asleep Solo

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We’re not suggesting you leave your little rugrat to fend for themselves during the nighttime hours, but it’s important to lay the foundation for them to start falling asleep on their own:

  • Put your baby down for the night as soon as they show signs of sleepiness. Their (tiny) internal clock is telling you they’re ready for bed—listen to it!
  • Resist the urge to rock your child to sleep each night. As adorable as it is when they fall asleep in your arms, they’ll quickly become dependent on this rocking motion. The sooner they learn to fall asleep without you, the better their overall sleep quality will be (and as a result, yours too!).
  • Give your baby time and space to self-soothe before you rush into their nursery to care for them. This is incredibly difficult for first-time parents to wrap their minds around, but it’s not neglectful to encourage your baby to calm and pacify themselves—in fact, it’s the best thing you can do for your crying kiddo and yourself.

Care for Yourself So You Can Care for others.

It’s easy to lose ourselves in our baby’s needs—after all, they depend on us for survival. But at the end of the day, you won’t be a very good parent if you’re exhausted or unhealthy. Do everything you can to ensure quality sleep so that you can provide your child with quality care—until then, a morning cup of coffee (or five) never hurt anybody.

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