The Sleep Paradox
You’re exhausted. You’ve been waking up every two hours with your little one for the past three weeks; you’ve finally crashed into bed, snuggled under your covers and let out a heavy sigh of relief. You close your eyes, but alas, sleep evades you. Why? The sleep paradox is to blame.
Sleep can’t be forced
Sleep is not within your conscious control. You cannot force yourself to fall asleep. You can tell your body to close your eyes, you can take some relaxing breaths, but you are at the mercy of your brain’s ability to allow you to slumber. Don’t worry, you are not alone. Your baby is also a victim of the sleep paradox. That may not be comforting, but it’s important to know that your baby’s refusal to fall asleep is not a personal attack against you and your parenting skills, but rather a result of the sleep paradox.
Sleep when Baby is sleeping
Hopefully by the end of this week, you recognize the importance of completing enough sleep cycles for yourself. Navigating new parenthood on little to no sleep can increase your risk of mental fogginess, irritability, illness, and symptoms of depression or anxiety. Your baby still has inconsistent sleep patterns at this young age that we cannot control, however, we can control our own sleep habits. By responding to your baby’s hunger cues throughout the day, you are helping to ensure your baby is getting plenty of calories in the hopes of longer sleep stretches at night. Therefore, try not to let your baby go longer than 4 hours between feedings during the day. When possible try to take at least 1 daytime nap while your baby is sleeping.
Additionally, go to bed as soon as you get your baby down to sleep at bedtime. And since you never really know when your baby’s longest sleep stretch will happen, it is best to get sleep for yourself when you are able. As a reminder, you need to try and get at least 4 or 5 completed sleep cycles (90 minutes each) each 24 hours to cope with the disruptions to your sleep.