Sleep is so important. Let's review what happens when we actually sleep well.
1. Heart rate and blood pressure decrease
2. Hormones are released, this is where growth hormone comes into play. Ever wonder why teenagers and babies sleep so much.
3. Energy is restored
4. Tissue growth occurs (sleeping after weight training = more muscles)
5. Blood supply to tissues is improved. Your body gets the chance to fully relax and just be in a calm state.
So, what happens when we have babies? Well we spend time getting ready to have said baby and make a plan on how and where they will sleep. The bedtime we will impose, that they will self soothe and be amazing sleepers because DUH they are babies.
Don't they all sleep well?
Um the short answer is No.
The long answer is Hell No!
Some babies don't sleep well, sometimes they sleep great during the day and they wake more at night. If they are breastfeed they might wake more then one would like at night. This is the harsh reality of being a breastfeeding mom. Sadly this can increase the risk of postpartum depression. It has been noted that when mother's receive less then 6 hours of sleep a night, and an infant wakes more then 3 times between the hours of 10pm-6am their PPD testing scores increase.
In some cases it isn't an infant but an older child that wakes often. It would seem that no matter what is disrupting sleep all of our point above could be impacted. So what does happen to the body when sleep is elusive?
No sleep is no bueno!
1. Increased risk of chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease
2. blood sugar imbalances, and alterations of stress hormones like cortisol.
3. weight gain, Hint: we crave carbs when we don't sleep. Let's be honest is there
4. decreased cognition, sleep deprivation and driving is similar to drunk driving.
5. increased rates of depression
Now what do we do with a baby, kid, spouse that doesn't sleep? We can focus on healthy sleep hygiene, and the biggest recommendation for new parents is this.
Relax! Breath! Don't Stress about it!
The baby will sleep, sometimes that means we hold them, sometimes we co-sleep, sometimes if it's your thing you let them cry (can't do it, not my thing, no way, no how), you get on the same page as your partner, you ask for help from your partner, and you roll with it. Sometimes they sleep great, sometimes they don't.
This will not be the only time in your life your child doesn't do what you want.
Here are a few other ideas on how to support healthy sleep in you, your spouse or your children of all ages.
1. Turn off the T.V or any blue light 60 min prior to bedtime. (this allows melatonin to increase, and gets you into a state ready for calm and rest)
2. Create a routine or ritual. Bath, book, bed. Something like that especially for kids.
3. Let go of negative emotions associated with bedtime. If last night sucked, and the kids wouldn't go to bed. Do what Elsa say's and Let it go.
4. Do what works for you as a family. Co sleeping, holding baby, CIO, you choose just be OK with your decision.
5. Sleep in a dark, cool room. Try to remove all light sources as these will impact sleep and sleep hormone production.
6. Use calming essential oils like lavender, frankincense, and bergamot to help promote reset and relaxation.
7. Do some nighttime meditation or light movement like yoga to get you relaxed.
Dennis, C., & Ross, L. (2005). Relationships among infant sleep patterns, maternal fatigue, and development of depressive symptomatology. Birth (Berkeley, Calif.), 32(3), 187-193.