Parenthood should be a joyous time full of new adventures with your growing family. Unfortunately for some, parenthood has become synonymous with sleep deprivation. What’s worse, bad sleep can start affecting you while you are still pregnant! According to a study that tracked sleep patterns and fatigue levels among new parents, both mothers and fathers experienced “significant changes” in their sleep habits as early as late pregnancy.
But parenthood doesn’t have to mean 18 years of sleepless nights. We compiled some tips for helping you and your child get good sleep through every age so that you can do the same.
Tips for Sleeping While Pregnant
Recommended Sleep for Pregnant Women: 7-9 Hours Per Day Plus Naps
During pregnancy, you might encounter various sleeping problems. Here’s how to overcome them:
- If sleeping on your back hurts, try different positions until you find one that makes you and the baby happy.
- If breathing becomes difficult, try propping your head up with various pillows.
- If you need to visit the bathroom too often during the night, refrain from drinking water a few hours before bed and make sure to visit the bathroom right before sleep.
- If heartburn is bothering you, eat smaller meals throughout the day and avoid spicy and fatty foods.
- Let your partner help. Have them stuff your bedroom with pillows, blankets, sheets, and any other tools that might help you build a comfortable sleeping spot.
Tips for Helping Your Newborn or Infant Sleep Through the Night
Recommended Sleep for Newborns: 14-17 Hours Per Day
Recommended Sleep for Infants: 12-16 Hours Per Day
The baby has arrived and her sleep cycle is entirely dependent on feeding. Some babies seem to sleep all day, but this is not always the case. Stanford Children’s Health mentions that some children do not sleep through the night until they are one year old. This means 365 days of waking up every time your newborn needs to be fed, changed, or coddled. By helping your baby sleep better, you can also help yourself sleep better. Here are some ideas!
- Put your child to bed when they are sleepy but still awake to help them learn to fall asleep in bed.
- Feed your baby right before bed so you know she’s full, which will also give you more time to sleep between feedings.
- Lay your baby down on her back in a dark, quiet, and comfortably cool environment.
- Check out the latest tech developments in baby monitors so you can rest easy while your newborn sleeps too.
- While your baby adjusts to the new feeding and sleeping schedule, you can split feedings with a partner or loved one to help yourself get more sleep.
Tips for Parents with Toddlers or Preschoolers
Recommended Sleep for Children 1 to 2 Years of Age: 11-14 hours Hours Per Day
Recommended Sleep for Children 3 to 5 Years of Age: 10-13 hours Hours Per Day
With your help, your toddler can develop a regular sleeping schedule by age three. To help her–and yourself–maintain a steady sleeping schedule, routine is key. Establish a consistent bedtime routine, bedtime hour, and waking time that help your child learn when it’s time to go to bed and wake up. Because children are very sensitive to light, you should reinforce this routine by exposing them to natural light during the daytime, and dimmer lights or darkness in the evening. Also, try your best limit your toddler’s electronics time in the hours leading to bedtime.
Tips for Helping Young Children Get Rest
Recommended Sleep for Children 6 to 12 Years of Age: 9-12 hours Hours Per Day
As your child starts to grow out of their unpredictable tantrums and develop a personality of her own, it’s important for you to stay energized to enjoy parenthood to its full capacity. Some tips that both you and your child can follow to get better sleep include:
- Reducing the screen time: Considering that our world seems more like an episode of Black Mirror every day, this might be difficult to do. But blue light from electronics and excessive screen exposure in the nighttime can make it difficult for your child to fall asleep. Instead, encourage your pre-teen to put down the devices in the evening, and lead by example by doing the same!
- Making bedtime sacred: Do you remember the days when getting sent to bed by your parents was a punishment? Instead of making bedtime a punishment, make it something your kids can look forward to.
Tips for Parents with Tired Teens
Recommended Sleep for Teenagers: 8-10 hours
Teenagers are busy juggling their social lives, schoolwork, and extracurricular schedules. This means that many teens are not getting the amount of sleep they need. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has declared sleep loss in adolescents a public health issue. Although following these tips for helping teens get better sleep will undoubtedly make you look like “the bad guy”, we suggest trying a few of these ideas out.
- Try to encourage your teen limit electronic device use after sunset. If they must, make sure the devices are turned off at least one hour before bedtime or encourage your teen to wear blue-light blocking glasses. These block the strong blue light emitted from electronic devices, which can keep them feeling too alert when it’s time for bed.
- Establish a bedtime and be firm with it no matter how many “but moooooms” you hear.
- Ensure that your child gets eight hours of sleep, even on the weekends.
- Limit the number of activities in your child’s schedule so they have time to enjoy them all while still managing school work and a healthy sleep schedule.
- Sympathize with your teen when they aren’t tired enough to go to sleep. Due to biological changes, sleep patterns in teenagers naturally shift towards going to sleep later and waking up later. To accommodate these changes, choose nighttime activities that will help your teen relax before bed and counteract their inclination to stay awake.
- Take your teen’s phone out of her room during the nighttime and opt for a traditional alarm instead. If you allow your teen to sleep with her phone, make sure that the “Do Not Disturb” feature is enabled during bedtime hours.
- Set a good example. Don’t tell your teen to put their phone away as you mindlessly scroll. Don’t stay up late binge-watching a show in the living room. Also, make sure to take our own advice and get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep!
The quality of your child’s sleep will largely dictate the success of your own sleep and vice versa. Together, you and your child can live an active and healthy lifestyle, through setting regular bedtimes and evening routines that become ingrained every-day habits. In this way, you can help your entire household get better sleep, build a happier collective attitude, and be ready for quality family time!