Baby's First Year · Emotional Health

Will I ever get enough sleep?  Helpful tips for your mental health

Woman sleeping on bed

In the best of circumstances achieving a good night’s sleep is challenging…add a newborn, teething or fussy infant or a mind that won’t stop thinking to the mix and it can feel impossible!

Although a new baby can make it very challenging for new parents to feel rested, it’s very important to ‘protect’ your sleep.  What do I mean by this?  Well, let me explain.

It’s important to take all necessary steps to try and reach a minimum of 6 hours of sleep in a 24hr period.  This magical number is the bare minimum that your body and brain need to self-regulate, recover from the day, and be emotionally and physically ready to tackle that unpredictable next day with your new baby.

Without 6 hours of sleep per day parents are more at risk of experiencing mood disorders, especially if there is a history of depression or anxiety.

Here are some steps to help you plan for that much needed sleep: 

  • recruit family and friends to watch your baby so you can nap
  • ask for help with cleaning, cooking, laundry, and baby care so you have more free time to sleep when your baby sleeps
  • use blackout blinds, an eye mask, and/or a white noise maker to help block out distractions
  • minimize use of electronics 2 hours before bed
  • avoid exercise, heavy meals, too much fluid, bright light, and stimulating activities for at least one hour before bed
  • avoid caffeine
  • try guided imagery or meditation (free apps available or YouTube channels)

The postpartum period is a time to rest, recover and put yourself, your health and the health of your baby first!  Stick to the basics, do what needs to be done and make sure you’re getting support from those around you.

If you find that you are unable to sleep due to anxious or scary thoughts, feelings of sadness or grief, it’s time to speak to a health care provider you trust (doctor, midwife, therapist).  You can also e-chat or call Toronto Public Health at (416) 338-7600.

If you find that you are unable to sleep for over 48 hours it is important to get immediate medical attention to assess your mental health and put more supports in place.

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