Tips for managing sleep deprivation

Dr Nicole Highet

Dr Nicole Highet

Dr Nicole Highet is the Founder of COPE. As well as the Executive Director of COPE (the Centre of Perinatal Excellence). COPE is a not-for-profit organisation devoted to reducing the impacts of emotional and mental health problems in the pre and postnatal periods.
Updated on Jun 14, 2024 · 3 mins read
Tips for managing sleep deprivation

A lack of sleep – AKA sleep deprivation – can have a huge effect on your mood, energy and ability to think clearly. Things can seem so much more catastrophic if you have not been getting enough sleep, and as a result, you are likely to feel overwhelmed, teary and emotional. It’s important to recognise the impact of sleep deprivation on the way you feel and function. Don’t be too hard on yourself!

Try and identify what may be causing problems with your sleep: I.e. Is this due to the baby being unsettled or do you have problems falling back to sleep once the baby has been settled? This will help you to try and come up with some practical strategies with your partner or other support people to help you get the sleep you need. This may include someone else doing the midnight feed or taking your baby for a long pram walk during the day to give you some rest time.

7 key tips for improving your sleep

Sleep is a basic human need, so don’t underestimate how much it can help you with building your energy, resilience and maintaining a positive and realistic outlook.

1. Be aware of your sleep debt

It’s easy to forget how much sleep we’re missing out on and it is important to ask yourself how much your sleep and quality of sleep may be impacted.

2. Cut yourself some slack

Parenting can be challenging enough without the added burden of doing it with too little sleep. Sometimes we might need to prioritise sleep over other chores which can wait and be easier to do when you are not feeling so sleep deprived.

3. Take your baby out for a walk each morning

If possible, taking your baby out for a walk every morning can improve the maternal and child circadian rhythms – so that you are in sync with one another and more likely to be able to sleep at the same time.

4. Take naps when you can

Stealing a nap whenever you can, will make a big difference. Try to make the most of any opportunity that comes by.

5. Set yourself a routine bedtime

This can help you to prioritise sleep and gives you something to look forward to.

6. Avoid screen time before bed

Screens can play havoc with your brain by affecting the release of melatonin. Try reading a book instead. This can slow you down, make your eyes tired and help you to drift off to sleep.

7. Don’t be too proud to ask for help

The opportunity to have quality sleep can make a huge difference to the way you feel, are able to think and function through the day. Your partner, family or friends can also help by taking your baby even for a few hours to enable you to recharge.

Don’t underestimate the power of sleep and its intersection with general well being, including mental health. Making sleep a priority is an act of self-care and will ultimately allow you to function at a higher level and be able to enjoy these early months and years with your little one.

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