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Coping with sleepless nights

Advice for parents on coping with sleep deprivation and dealing with sleepless nights with your new baby.
Sleep deprivation can leave you disorientated, unable to concentrate, tearful and depressed. It can cause a lot of stress and is recognised to be a factor in women developing postnatal depression. Sleep deprivation is often one of the biggest shocks for new parents. This type of tiredness can make you feel like you're losing your grip and affect your ability to concentrate.

Try to remember and gain some comfort in that it isn't going to last forever. Try not to expect too much of yourself, you cannot do everything, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Get some help and take care of yourself by eating well, sleeping whenever you can, and taking some exercise, even if it is only a brisk walk with the pushchair.

Tips to help you cope with sleepless nights
  • Do not try to be superwoman, you have not got anything to prove. Admit you need some help and your friends and relatives will only be too pleased to come and help, even to do the ironing!
  • Do try to grab a nap when you can. Even a quick 20 minutes' rest will give you a boost. If you find it difficult to sit down and relax, try smothering your hands with hand cream as that way you will have to take a break!
  • Do not skip meals. Eat regular, healthy meals. Try not to go down the sugar and caffeine route, it will not sustain you for long. Sugar rushes leave you drained of energy and this may affect your milk supply. If you are snacking try to opt for a sandwich made with wholemeal bread and a protein-based filling like chicken or egg, rather than reaching for the biscuit tin.
  • Do not cut yourself off from the outside world. It may be the last thing you feel like doing, but a walk in the fresh air will really perk you up. Phone a friend or meet up with someone from your antenatal class, surviving the first few weeks of parenthood together is a real bonding experience.
  • Do let your partner take over some feeds. This can be tricky if you're breastfeeding, but you can express milk and keep it in a sterile bottle in the fridge. Your partner could give the last feed of the evening, giving you the chance to have an early night. Do not forget to make some time for yourself. A bath, a face pack, plucking your eyebrows or watching your favourite TV programme will give you some time out.
  • Do try to relax. Revisit any relaxation techniques you learnt in your antenatal class, 20 minutes' deep relaxation can be as refreshing as a whole night's sleep.

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My baby girl of 9 months has been waking up any time after 3am... to start with i was giving her a bottle and putting her back down for a few hours, but i feel i have made a mistake as she is now expecting it! Im not sure what to do now.. do i leave her to cry or carry on with what im doing? I work 3 days a week for 12hours so im starting to feel the strain a little now!! any kind of advice would be great xx
by ag123 9th Nov 2010, 5:07pm
Hello, just wondering if anyone has experienced what I have. My boy is a week old today, and I struggled for the first few days with sleep - had a massive panic attack on thursday when he was 4 days old and for most of the day was unable to even look at my beautiful little bundle without getting anxious and panicky. I'm getting better - but I've realised that much of the panic and anxiety I feel starts when I'm about to have food, or when I'm eating. Can anyone else relate to this?
by ErinErinErin 6th Sep 2010, 10:09am
hello everyone was wondering if any one had any advice, i have a 14 month old daughter and am 6 months pregnant expecting a little boy, my worries are that my daughter goes to bed between 6 30 and 7pm, but then wakes up at about 10 scrfeaming, we then give her a warm drink but then have to put her in our bed because she will scream for hours until we put her in our bed, this is getting harder now as my bump is growing, and also will have my new arrival in my bedroom soon and worried how this is gunna affect them both and my partner as he is up early for wrok, thank u and apriciate any advice x
by katsmam 14th May 2010, 4:35pm
My baby is 11 weeks old, she can be put to bed awake at about 8 after her last feed and she usually falls to sleep herself. MY problem is that she starts stirring between 1-2 for a feed and after this she is very restless for the rest of the nite, turning her head from side to side and pulling at her ears. Luckily my partner can sleep thru this most nites but i cant. My babies eyes are closed and she appears asleep but she often scratches her face, alot! I have been told that it could be wind which we do sometimes struggle with after this feed but even when we do get lots of wind up the same thing always happens. Her naps through the day are never restless! i feel exhausted, any advice?
by lillistones 28th Oct 2009, 2:03pm
I've been reading this guide which I was given called Sleep Senses, which basically says ALL props like soothers, mobiles, blankies, toys should not be introduced so they can self sooth themselves back to sleep and dont rely on you to keep getting up and giving them the props back! I think it sounds like a good idea, apparently apart from feeding, they shouldnt be in your bed as it can take up to 6 years for them to break the habit with you, my friend still has her two kids crawling into her bed at all hours and there 7 and 9!! I'm due in 7 weeks and will give it a go as my friend paid £120 for this guide and although its quite hard going, seems the way forward if you want to reduce the amount of hours spend attending to the baby, but who knows!
by missnaughty24 11th Sep 2009, 3:38pm
My baby was waking every 2 hours during the night until i read somehwere that if they are put to bed awake and not left to fall asleep being nursed then they eventually pick up on how to get themselves to sleep, plus i try not to let him fall asleep with a bottle in his mouth, otherwise its a shock when they wake up and they r not in the same place as weher they fell asleep, and it seems to work even tho he still needs feeding every 4hours during the night it has really made a difference
by charlott3 21st Jan 2009, 5:28pm
My baby still wakes ups every 3 hours for bottle and he is almost 6 months old, he has a feeding schedule through tjhe day but seems to be really hungry through the night still, he will not take a soother.
He will go directly to sleep after having a bottle, but still wakes me up every 2-3 hours, for 4oz bottle. I havent had a 8hour uninterupted sleep in almost a year! Anything I can do to help?
I have played soft music, rocking befoe bed.
I know there is alot more parents out there trhat have same problem or worse. One thing I actually did hear that helps baby sleep better, is to take baby to a chiropractic, one of my friends did that and baby has been sleeping well since. Im going to try that method and will update ti let you know how it goes, also if anybody else has done that, I would like to know of any other methods to help baby sleep through the night.
by flo80 1st Dec 2008, 9:24am
i am workin for a family and they have a 1 year old and for about week and half hes been getting up from 12-4ish and he wont let u leave him and the parents are getting stressed and tired and are sleeping in the day, if anybody could help on advise that will be grand from sophie
by babeheart 26th Nov 2008, 9:11am
hi Joanne, though my baby is just six weeks old I am apprehensive that I'll be facing a similar problem as least I' ll know that I'm not alone.all the best with your baby.
by sudarshana 3rd Nov 2008, 10:13am
I have an 11 month old boy and 2 older sons. I am having trouble with him getting up in the night and not sleeping properly through the day. Have tried the controlled crying for about 3 days now. Still up 4 -5 times a night wanting his bottle. Don't remember having the same lack of sleep with his brothers and not doing anything different, if anybody has any adviceplase let me know. Mother at her witts end.
by WJ 25th Sep 2008, 8:53am
My little boy is turning 8 months on September 6th. He is awake anywhere from 4 - 8 times at night. He has slept with me since he was a couple months old. A survival technique for myself. He was extrememly colicky and very fussy baby. To the point we didn't really leave the house until he was 5 months old. He would cry in the car...well...he would cry all the time. Now he is much better, but always wants to be carried and is still quite fussy. I am considering the controlled crying method. I am very sleep deprived. His father is serving in Afghnaistan and I am quite by myself. My family won't even take him cause he is so fussy and really only likes me. Which I can't blame him cause he is only been with me.

I guess I would love just to hear from anyone that has gone through somehting similiar. I am worn out and I know I have to do something. But I keep putting off this controlled crying method. Can someone give me reassurance that it works or that I am doing the right thing by picking this method.

Sorry about my mini-novel..Guess I just needed to talk.
Thanks A Bunch Joanne
by JoJo75 29th Aug 2008, 9:17am
My 6 month old boy has never not once slept through the night, in fact not even come close! he is being tested for lactose intolerance and whilst waiting for results to return doc has advised changing formula to cow and gate comfort from SMA blue top, we are on our third night of doing this and he is worse than before, he wakes up loads in the night with pain, legs in air hitting hard onto cot/bed and makes funny noises, he rarely cries so that is an upside but is getting quite distressing now as really by 6 months I would of expected some nights sleep! any ideas anyone? anyone experiencing the same thing?
Thanks for reading
Lize x
by chasanddave 21st Jul 2008, 8:54am
we are having a terrible time with my 11 month old daughter sleeping through the night, I have currently been using the controlled crying technique for over 2 weeks but still face the same crying bout in the middle of the night, everything I read says this technique should only take about a week to take effect, I am getting anxious now as am expecting another baby at christmas, has anyone else faced this problem, help!
by lenip 16th Jul 2008, 8:49am