You’ve bought the crib and readied the room. You’ve read all the baby books and you’ve rehearsed all the possible scenarios you can think of in your head for the day you bring home your bundle of joy from the hospital. But no matter how ready you might feel, nothing can truly prepare you for those first few months with your newborn baby. Of course, everything is new and exciting (and oftentimes a little scary), but the one thing that new moms seem to have the most trouble with is the sleep deprivation.
Many new parents find themselves asking “will I ever sleep again?” after a few nights of getting up every few hours for feeding, changing, or comforting their newborn. This is enough to make anyone crazy, especially when there is a little helpless soul relying on you for its survival. So, if you’re wondering how much sleep do new moms get and how long do sleepless nights last with newborn babies, we’ve got the answers for you.
The average person ages 18-64 needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night to stay healthy and to allow them to function and get everything done. A new study was done by Sleep Junkie, where they showed 68% of parents to-be were achieving this amount of sleep per night before having their baby. Unfortunately they saw that number drop to a mere 10% after birth.
Not only do newborn babies sleep less than 5 hours (rarely consecutively) per night, the amount of time parents dedicate to getting them to fall asleep takes up a lot of their own precious sleeping time. In fact, between the different methods parents use to do so (ranging from reading a story or singing a lullaby all the way to getting everyone into the car for a 20-minute drive through the neighborhood), new moms and dads are spending 5 hours 25 minutes on average every day just trying to get their baby to sleep.
So how much sleep do parents lose in the first year? On average, during the first year of your child’s life, new moms and dads will lose 218 minutes per night, which adds up to 109 hours or about 4.5 full days of sleep.
Although this sounds like a struggle, and it certainly isn’t easy, the truth is that most babies start sleeping 6+ consecutive hours a night after 3 months, so it’s really only those first months that are the hardest. And while it might be hard to believe while you’re in it, this time goes by extremely quickly, and believe it or not, you will really miss those days when they’re gone.
There are also some sleep deprivation coping strategies for newborns you can try out to make life easier during those difficult first months:
- Try and nap when your baby naps, instead of taking that time to get other tasks done.
- Turn off all screens an hour or so before getting into bed, to assure that you get the most restful and complete sleep for the hours your baby does allow.
- Take turns with your partner, don’t take on all the work (and don’t feel guilty about sharing the load).
- Don’t try and substitute sleep for caffeine. It won’t work, and you will crash even harder in the end.
- Never underestimate the effectiveness of a good 20-minute power nap.
Hopefully these techniques will help you get through those magical and difficult first few months. But just remember that even though sometimes it feels like you won’t make it through, you are a tough mama and you can do anything. You’ll miss these early days when they’re over so quickly, you’ll see.