Is sleep really that important?
In a word — YES!
Getting a good night’s sleep has a lot more benefits than just feeling refreshed in the morning.
- Sleep allows your body to do some physical healing, maintains hormone levels, and boosts your immune system.
- Sleep plays a very important part in emotional well-being and improves learning.
Multiple nights of losing even just an hour or two of sleep a night can effect you in the same way as if you had missed a whole night. You may begin micro-sleeping (and not even be aware of it) which can be dangerous if you are performing a task needing your attention or happen to be driving. Not to mention that your mood changes and it may be difficult for you to get along with others during the day. Your patience will likely be at a bare minimum.
So how much sleep do you need?
Most experts say that 7-8 hours of sleep a night is a good goal.
“That’s nice,” you say, “but totally not doable right now.”
That’s actually true. When referring to babies “sleeping through the night,” it actually means a 5 hour stretch of sleep (a few hours short of that 7-8 you need).
One tip is to keep going back to bed until you reach that 7-8 hour mark (or reach the number of hours of sleep that you need). This may mean going to bed a little earlier and then going back to bed after that 4 am feeding. It may also mean taking a mid-morning nap.
One of the best ways to get some extra sleep during those first few weeks is to hire a postpartum doula. They can get tasks done during the day so that you don’t have to choose between chores and that nap. Or they can spend the night, taking care of your baby, so you can get a full night’s sleep — or just wake up for the feeding, not having to deal with diapering or settling your baby back to sleep.
Remember to give yourself and your partner some extra grace during the day, as you’re likely to be a little irritable!
Remember to take advantage of the times you do get to sleep — including letting things go in favor of a nap!
Remember that this is a short time — although it will NEVER feel like it is!
Here are a couple of articles where you can learn more: