Becoming a parent is one of the greatest joys of life and caring for a child even greater. Babies are 100% dependent on your care for them which puts you in a unique position to assume the greatest responsibility that an adult can have. But if you don’t want to experience sleep deprivation, then you are in for a pretty rough ride for the next 6 years or so!
The average adult requires around 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, but for parents of babies and toddlers, this might be hard to achieve. Young children, newborns especially, will often awake during the night for feeding and on top of that, you could often wake during the night because you think the baby is crying or you are expecting it to.
Stress and Sleep Deprivation
Chronic stress affects your mind and body in several ways, not least keeping you in a constant state of awareness which only serves to delay sleep and increase anxiety. The lack of sleep brought on by this can also affect the physical body, and studies suggest that getting less than 7 hours of sleep can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, and stroke, among others.
The sudden lack of sleep associated with becoming a new parent can put you at risk of serious medical issues such as anxiety and depression and while this is most common in mothers, it can affect fathers as well. Additionally, in a cruel catch 22, the stress induced by insomnia can cause you to lose the quality of sleep, and around it goes. Check for therapy for postpartum depression if you have experienced this yourself.
What You Can Do
It is natural for your baby to wake up and cry during the night for many reasons such as being hungry, not feeling secure, or not being able to get back to sleep. All of this interrupted sleep can adversely affect your life and your sleep cycle, causing physical and mental stress that can lead to serious conditions down the line.
Newborns like to feel safe and secure which is why we wrap them tightly in blankets, for it is only as we get older that we yearn for our freedom. As your baby ages, you should begin to implement the swaddle transition technique as doing this properly will help both the baby and yourself sleep better. It is advised that you begin with one arm out at first, and once the baby is used to this, free the other arm as well.
You shouldn’t be alarmed by your baby waking at night and crying since it is a normal part of their development and usually just indicates that they need something. As your baby ages, you will get to know their sleep pattern and you can structure a routine around it in order to minimize the effects of any lost sleep.
Introducing progression from a swaddle is an excellent technique to help your baby feel free as they begin to become more wriggly and you can start this with one arm at a time. However, some babies still like to feel comforted and there are sleepsuits that can help with this. A sleepsuit provides the freedom of movement a baby wants with the feeling of security that it needs.