Dealing With Sleep Deprivation After Baby’s Arrival

You’re laying in bed looking at the reflection of your visibly bloodshot eyes in the glass of water on your nightstand. Lucky you has gotten about 20 minutes of sleep so far tonight and it’s already six a.m. As you’re mentally debating whether it’s Thursday or Friday, you manage to fall back asleep.


The little one has woken up for some reason and is crying like his diaper is filled with fire ants. You open your left eyelid like an old creepy doll (it’s the only part of your body willing to cooperate right now). You tell yourself, “Maybe it’ll stop. Maybe he just heard a car alarm outside or something and it startled him.” But 30 seconds go by and he just won’t let up. You don’t even try to sigh because it wouldn’t do your situation the justice it deserves. You manage to sit up [cue sleepy mama head rush] and make your way over to his crib.

Cry. Sleep. Repeat. 

Sound familiar? We thought so.

Unfortunately, being sleep deprived is an inevitable result of having a baby. While many individuals without babies or children are already not getting enough sleep, adding a newborn into the mix only exacerbates our already poor sleep schedules. Newborns are hardwired differently than us, waking up constantly because their little bellies quickly run on empty and need to be fed. Oh, and throw diaper changes into the mix too! The first few weeks, newborns only sleep about two to four hours a night. You know what that means … so do you. If you’re lucky.

You’re Not Alone

Sleep deprivation represents one of the most common side effects for parents after their child is born. While the average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep per night, when an individual only gets a few hours of sleep for several nights in a row, “sleep debt” occurs. Getting rid of those “sleep debts” as a new mama can feel more difficult than paying off annoying student loans. Even worse, your health may suffer major consequences. It’s not until around the three month point that babies begin to sleep about six to eight hours a night.

But what are you supposed to do until then?

How to Cope

  • Preserve Whatever Energy You Have. Simplicity is key! Don’t make it a priority to power through that errands list on the fridge or to return that tupperware to your aunt who lives an hour away. It’s time to put yourself in low battery mode. That means certain parts of your pre-baby routine are going to have to go on the back-burner for now. Things like watching tv or reading a book to your little one are good ways to not use too much energy.
  • Don’t Compromise Your Diet. Eating healthy will not only make you feel significantly better, it’ll help your mind and body heal too. We know preparing delicious meals or going out to get food isn’t an easy option with a baby. Just try to make a conscious effort to eat nutritious meals. Oh, and drink, drink, drink! Hydration is so important and will help keep any nagging headaches at bay.
  • Get Out There. Fresh air and sunshine have so many restorative properties, especially when you’ve been inside all day. Or the last four days. Taking a walk is a great way to push back any sad feelings (thanks endorphins!) and feel mildly energized.
  • Remember To Laugh About It. A lack of sleep can definitely make us feel crazy at times. Rather than resorting to feelings of sadness or anger, try to laugh about your situation instead. Did your little one just blow through a diaper right when your sleepy mama head hit the pillow? Choose to laugh about it!
  • Ask For Help. Reach out to friends and family to help care for the baby. This is critical especially in the beginning when you’ll be sleeping the least. Don’t be stubborn or ashamed to ask for help. Consider the option of hiring help too — a babysitter or night nurse might be able to make all the difference for you if it’s within your financial means.
  • Opportunity For A Nap? Take it! If you have a baby, you’re going to be taking a lot of little naps. Try to sleep when they do. It certainly takes some time getting used to, but all those little naps add up!

Those long peaceful Sunday naps may be a distant memory in the rearview, but your current circumstances will soon fade.  Maintaining a positive state of mind can get you through nearly anything.