Expert Opinion

Sleep shortcuts for exhausted parents

We’ve all heard the saying “sleep when the baby sleeps” but in reality, how many of us exhausted parents have time for that? Do we do the laundry when the baby does the laundry too?

Sleep really is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, to get great sleep we need to ensure all the pieces of the sleep picture are in place – but how do we know what that looks like? What’s the magic behind getting sleep sorted when you are so exhausted?

Here are four of my basics – the practical suggestions that don’t require a lot of thinking.

  1. Sunshine: Start your baby’s day with sunshine. Exposure to natural light in the morning helps regulate your little one’s internal body clock, which helps with wake and sleep cycles, positively impacting on the production of melatonin as well. As a parent, it’s also important that you get outside as well – even if it is just for 10 minutes. It can be great for your mental health and make you feel more awake and alert, even when sleep-deprived.
  2. Expectations: Don’t set the bar so high in the sleep department that when your baby doesn’t ‘fit the mould’ you feel like a failure, that you’re doing something wrong. Should your baby be waking hourly at 3 months old… maybe not! But should they be sleeping through the night, also probably not. Define what is a problem for you and what isn’t and ask for help if you cannot resolve ‘the problem’ yourself.
  3. Wake windows: There’s a lot of conflicting information that will outline average wake windows for your baby. The number on reason for night wakings, early risings, and short naps, is overtiredness. Understand what the average awake windows are for your baby and watch the clock and look out for signs of tiredness. You want to get your baby down before you see too many tired signs.
  4. Environment: This is actually the number one thing that can impact positively on a baby’s sleep – a room’s sleep setup. In almost every client I visit, I need to make some modifications to the sleep environment and it, in many situations, brings about improved sleep almost automatically. Some non-negotiable fundamentals are:
    • The room must be dark, and I mean DARK
    • Introduce white noise, enough to block out external sounds

I say this to all of my clients, sleep is about putting our baby down at the right time, in the right environment and then being a little curious to see what they are capable of. Allow them some time to settle or resettle. You can always attend and reassure if they need it.

About the author

Lisa is the founder of Cherish Your Sleep, Co-Regional Director (Australia/Pacific) of The Association of Professional Sleep Consultants, an experienced certified baby/child sleep consultant and a mother to 3 young children.
She has always loved children and has worked in the industry for over 20 years as a qualified child care worker, working primarily with children aged 0 – 3yrs.
A successful outcome is not only good for the parents and children, but also giver Lisa a sense of satisfaction and happiness – there’s nothing better than hearing from a parent who finally got their first full night sleep since having a child.
Becoming a mum and meeting and seeing other mums struggle with their babies and children’s sleep made Lisa really want to reach out and help. She doesn’t see that there is a one size fits all to helping families – sleep is almost like a Puzzle – you need all the pieces in place to achieve the full picture and those pieces are what she shares with families.
Lisa uses a holistic approach to sleep, focusing on emotional wellbeing of families and ensuring the parent child connection in not only maintained, but enhanced. She knows how easy it is to become overwhelmed and frustrated, so it’s her passion to help find solutions that will work for you, your baby and the rest of your family.
Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata