survive sleep deprivation with a newborn

How to survive sleep deprivation with a newborn

A survey by Snuz UK found 7 out of 10 parents reported losing an average of 3 hours of sleep per night during the first year after the birth of their newborn. This equates to new parents losing the equivalent of 133 nights of sleep in the first year of their baby's life. 

Sleep deprivation with a newborn can take its toll on new parents, both physically & mentally - with parents often describing it as one of the most challenging parts of early parenthood. It can impact our alertness, our decision-making ability, increase our anxiety and self-doubt. 

The first step to surviving sleep deprivation with a newborn is having realistic expectations about what it should look like. With a newborn, sleep will most likely be broken and consist of 2- 4 hours of sleep blocks for the first 6 weeks. Knowing how to identify & manage sleep deprivation is crucial.

While there might not be one quick-fix solution to get your baby to sleep longer stretches throughout the night, here are our Top 5 tips on how to survive sleep deprivation with a newborn:



1. Start forming routines around sleep for your baby (and for yourself).

If you have a newborn, this could simply be a feed in a dark room before bed. If you have a six month old, this could be a bath, book or lullaby and sleep sack. For yourself, this could be shutting off all devices 1 hour before you go to sleep, limiting phone usage during night feeds to reduce blue light exposure and increase melatonin production. Routines help our bodies anticipate sleep.


2. Aim for a minimum of 4 hours consecutive sleep in any 24 hour period.

This is known as “anchor sleep.” It can be during the day or night. It might sound impossible in those early days of sleep deprivation with a newborn but it is worth working up to this for the restorative benefits. This might look like going to bed an hour or two earlier (a reverse sleep-in) if your baby does a longer stretch in the evening, or having your partner take the baby directly after a feed to maximise your stretch of sleep.

3. Line up sleep support.

Have a list of people you can call on to help you get the sleep you need. Can a partner take over a feed? Or take the baby straight after a feed so you can sleep solidly until the next one? Can a family member watch the baby during the day while you rest? Have you researched a sleep consultant who can help you manage sleep deprivation with a newborn? You can begin to plan for this during pregnancy.

4. Know the power of rest.

Rest doesn't always mean sleep. Even resting and closing your eyes can be restorative. Sometimes, when we put pressure on ourselves to sleep, it’s harder to relax into sleep.

5. Go easy on yourself.

Know that the effects of sleep deprivation are temporary and that this phase will eventually pass. If you feel overwhelmed and need more support, or feel that sleep deprivation is impacting your mental and physical abilities during the day, reach out to a professional.

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