New Jammies knows it’s just as important for parents to have a proper night’s sleep as their kids and babies. And we’re here to help make that happen.
The Mayo Clinic has suggestions for the weary, those parents still waking in the middle of the night for early morning feedings, coping with teething, or just feeling overall sleep-deprived.
“While there’s no magical formula for getting enough sleep, these strategies can help,” the clinic says.
• Set aside social graces. When friends and loved ones visit, don’t offer to be the host. Instead, ask if they could watch the baby while you nap.
• Don’t ‘bed share’ during sleep. It’s OK to bring baby into your bed for nursing or comforting — but return baby to the crib or bassinet when you’re ready to go back to sleep.
• Split up nighttime duties. Work out a schedule with your partner that allows both of you to rest and care for the baby. If you’re breastfeeding, perhaps your partner could bring you the baby and handle nighttime diaper changes. If you’re using a bottle, take turns feeding the baby.
• Give watchful waiting a try. Sometimes, middle-of-the-night fussing or crying is simply a sign baby is settling down. Unless you suspect baby is hungry or uncomfortable, it’s OK to wait a few minutes to see what happens.
For parents who have trouble going back to sleep after a sleep cycle is interrupted, or find themselves staying up thinking of all they need to do the next day as baby sleeps, organic solutions are often a safe approach. Hot teas with chamomile, honey and lemon, and foods with melatonin, the hormone that helps send us to sleep each night – including oats, banana and tart cherries – can help at bedtime.
The inconsistent sleep struggle for moms and dads can sometimes become all-too real when parents look for help from over-the-counter sleep aids or alcohol to alleviate problems associated with interrupted schedules. While the FDA reports OTC sleep aids are non-habit-forming and do not present the risk of allergic reactions and complex sleep-related behaviors, child caregivers may want to proceed with their doctor’s advisement.
“Just because they’re available over-the-counter doesn’t mean they don’t have side effects,” says Marina Chang, R.Ph., pharmacist and team leader in FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Regulation Development. “They don’t have the same level of precision as the prescription drugs. They don’t completely stop working after 8 hours—many people feel drowsy for longer than 8 hours after taking them.”
Chang advises reading product labels and exercising caution when taking OTC sleep aids until learning their effects. “They affect people differently,” she says. “They are not for everybody.”
The FDA suggests parents, especially nursing mothers, consult healthcare providers with questions before starting medications. Read patient information before taking a product. Do not increase the dose prescribed, and do not drink alcohol or take other drugs that depress the nervous system.
Although it can seem like a chance to relax and unwind, consuming alcohol can make important sleeptime for parents less valuable. Paul Clarke, an addiction therapist in the UK, has researched many studies focusing on how alcohol consumption affects sleep. His blog article, “The Comprehensive Guide to Alcohol and Sleep,” is an useful resource to explain how alcohol consumption negatively impacts sleep.
“You may wonder why alcohol weakens the quality of your sleep,” he reports. “Here is why: Alcohol reduces the quality of your sleep because it induces your body to fall into a state of ‘deep sleep’, also known as Slow Wave Sleep (SWS).”
Clarke says SWS helps the body regenerate cells located in all tissues and bones, as well strengthens the immune system.
“However, skipping to SWS means you miss out on rapid eye movement (REM) sleep during the initial part of the night (first 3-4 hours),” he reports. “When you don’t drink alcohol, your body goes through around 5-6 cycles of REM over the course of the night. Each cycle lasts for around 5 to 30 minutes. REM is also associated with vivid dreaming and powers up your concentration and memory forming abilities the following day.”
“Scientists believe when the effect of alcohol wears off as you continue to sleep, the body slips out of deep sleep (SWS) and reverts to REM sleep (known as REM rebound) to compensate for a loss of REM,” he says.