OST parents know that the arrival of a new baby spells the end of those long Sunday morning lie-ins. Gone are the days of snoozing in bed with the weekend newspapers and a gloriously empty schedule – now your nights and mornings revolve around hourly feeds, nappy changes and running on adrenaline.
Experts frequently advise that we aim for eight hours of shut-eye per night, but if you have a newborn, it can be normal to go weeks or even months without getting more than a few hours of unbroken sleep at a time.
A recent survey, by sleep technology brand Simba, found that for the first year of their baby’s life, new parents get just four hours and 44 minutes slumber a night on average. More than half of the poll respondents also report looking back at the first 12 months of parenthood and being amazed that they were able to function as well as they did on so little sleep.
“Just like regular exercise and a healthy diet, sleep helps the body to function,” says Ana Noia, senior clinical physiologist in neurophysiology and sleep for Bupa UK (bupa.co.uk). “Getting enough rest is one of the most important things you can do for your health, particularly when you need to be alert to the needs of a child.”
Ana explains that a good night’s sleep improves your ability to learn, reduces mental fatigue, and helps form memories in your brain.
“Beyond physical fatigue, tiredness and low energy levels, not getting enough sleep for a long period of time can lead to serious health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, so it’s really important that we give our bodies the chance to rest,” she adds.
So what can parents do to help ensure they get as much sleep as possible? Here are some sleep tips for new parents...