In Search of Sleep

Expert advice on how to get a good night's sleep -- tonight.

You're Not Alone

Sleep deprivation is the battle scar of every new mom. It's impossible to avoid, starting in pregnancy and then getting serious when your newborn needs to eat every few hours. Hearing that women require at least seven hours of sleep a night to be at their best is not helpful to those who can't log four hours in a row. Studies show that just one hour of missed sleep decreases alertness the next day by up to 25 percent, but what are you supposed to do about it? Here, tips for improving the quality of the time you do spend in bed.

You're Not Alone

"Fatigue and sleep deprivation are normal for new moms," says James Smith, MD, clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Lucille Packard Children's Hospital, in Stanford, California. Some other mammals, such as dolphins, have trouble sleeping after giving birth, too, Dr. Smith says, so even if our infants slept eight hours in a row, moms might still be wakeful. Fortunately, this is all temporary -- though not temporary enough. You're in for weeks (or, honestly, months) of sleep disruption. Acceptance is half the battle; feeling bitter and resentful won't help you feel any more rested.

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