I don’t know about you, but I require 8 to 9 hours of sleep daily to feel rested. Sleep requirements differ between individuals, but studies show that most people require 6 to 8 hours of sleep daily to feel rested and function at their highest capacity. Sleep is imperative for our bodies to heal, recover and rejuvenate.
Sleep in the fourth trimester can be quite elusive. I am pretty sure I didn’t sleep for the first two weeks my little guy came home, and I have very little memory of those days with him. I was so exhausted. I was trying to do it all…visit with friends when they wanted to stop in, cook, clean and take care of my little peanut. I felt guilty for wanting to sleep. It gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking it about it now! If I could go back and tell my new mom self one thing, it would be sleep, make it a priority. Lack of sleep affects the body in such a profound way. You may not feel the results of fatigue immediately, but believe me it will hit you eventually.
Here are 5 ways sleep deprivation affects your body:
- Your body produces stress hormones causing you to be in a constant state of flight of fight.
- It increases your heart rate and blood pressure.
- It increases your risk for depression and anxiety.
- It depresses your immune system so your body has a harder time fighting off infections.
- It distorts your judgment depressing your ability to make sound decisions.
I encourage every momma out there living through the fourth trimester to take control of your health and well being by making sleep a priority every day. A well- rested momma is a more effective, loving, nurturing momma.
Here are some quick tips to help you prioritize and improve sleep:
- Sleep when baby sleeps. I know this seems obvious, but it is very tempting to spend baby’s nap times cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, visiting with guests, watching TV, interacting with social media, etc. All of these activities are fine as long as you are not sacrificing sleep to do them. Nap times are a precious commodity especially when baby is not yet sleeping through the night, so use this time to your advantage and get some rest.
- Ask for help and don’t turn down help. Let other people do chores for the first few weeks, until you and baby get the hang of each other. This frees up time for you to rest.
- Maximize your room for comfortable sleep. Make sure your room is quiet, dark and cool.
- Invest in a white noise machine or app.
- Avoid feeling guilty for sleeping.
- Avoid TV, computers, smart-phones within 30 minutes of sleeping. These devices will actually stimulate your brain making it more difficult to fall asleep.
Sleep will change your fourth trimester experience. It is vital to self-care during the fourth trimester. Prioritize sleep and you will be better prepared to care for your new baby, your family and yourself.