I'm Sleep Deprived
"I'm strung out from too little sleep. But I have a hard time napping during the day. What can I do?"
Every baby book and pediatrician on the planet seems to say the same thing: sleep when the baby sleeps. Yeah, right. "As much as I needed the rest, when I'd put David down for a nap, I'd just think, Yes! I can finally do some laundry -- or, better yet, something for myself," Raab says. For other moms, the problem is that (hello!) it's daytime, and it's hard to wind down when the sun is beaming, no matter how bleary-eyed you are. "If you're just not a napper, that's okay -- there are plenty of other ways to get rest," says Meir Kryger, MD, director of research and education at Gaylord Sleep Medicine, in Wallingford, Connecticut.
Jessica Darney-Buehler, of Elizabethtown, New York, mom to Oakley, 3, bumped up her bedtime by a few hours and found it really helped. "I was amazed at how my energy level shot up instantly," she says. Tina Levinson, of Burlington, Vermont, asked her husband to take over the morning shift and entertain daughter Sadie when she woke up at 6 a.m. He loved the alone time with her, and Levinson got two more solid hours of shut-eye. As for Raab: "Since I could never nap, my hubby and I took turns doing the middle-of-the-night feeding." (If you're nursing, you can pump and put the milk in a bottle.) One thing you should know about this bit of advice: "If your baby wakes up several times, it's best for one parent to do all of those feedings, then you can switch the next night," Dr. Kryger says. "If he takes the 1 a.m. and you take the 4 a.m., you'll both end up tired. It's best for one of you to get a continuous period of sleep."
If you want to nap but have trouble drifting off, turn off the ringer and make your bedroom as dark as possible. Earplugs can also cut out noises that might keep you up. And don't snooze for long periods of time. "If you nap for more than an hour or so, you'll enter what's called slow-wave sleep," Dr. Kryger explains. "When you wake up during this phase, you'll feel more tired and fuzzy than when you started." Limit your nap to one 30- to 45-minute session a day; that should be enough to help you feel more alert and refreshed.