Here are my tips* for sleeping:
- avoid caffeine starting 4-6 hours before you want to be able to go to bed
- avoid using a phone or tablet right before bed or during night feedings
- limit devices and nightlights that emit white or blue light at night; cover up digital clocks or displays with black electrical tape; at a minimum make sure the "night shift" is on or use a blue light filter app if you must use your phone at night
- use nightlights with red bulbs.
- write down worries (with pen and paper) if you find yourself unable to "slow down" or are having racing thoughts
- if you're breastfeeding, make sure you have a water bottle and maybe a snack near your bed in case you get thirsty/hungry in the middle of the night while you're up nursing
- try a guided progressive muscle relaxation or a yoga nidra CD or podcast if you wake up and can’t get back to sleep
- try legs up the wall (in bed!) and put your hands on your belly and focus on the up and down movement of your hands as you breathe in and out; when you start to feel sleepy, just turn around and lie down
If it’s been more than 24 hours since you last slept, or you find yourself consistently unable to sleep when the baby is sleeping because of fear, worry, or sadness, please talk to someone: your OB or midwife, or your child’s pediatrician are good first calls to make. You can also contact Postpartum Support International for help finding a specialized therapist.
*The "advice" caveat: I'm just another person on the internet making suggestions. Take what works for you, and leave the rest. And when you can, try to tune into what you think will help you. In the meantime, I hope this helps you get some more rest! Feel free to share strategies that helped you get through the worst of the sleep deprivation in the comments.