How Exercise and Naps Can Help New Mothers Get Better Sleep

Woman insomnia unable to sleep

Written by Terre Grable

December 11, 2018

new mother needs better sleep







Are you a new mom with an infant under 6 months of age? At a loss of how to get more sleep? Well, a recent study may help you improve your sleep.

Motherhood is exhausting and can be a culture shock for new moms. Consistent feedings, varied schedules and just trying to figure this new little person out often leave new mothers fatigued. Whether you feel like you have a handle on it or not, almost any new mom experiences poor sleep; especially during the newborn phase. Poor sleep also contributes to increased symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety for new mothers. In this study, researchers measured how long it took the participants to fall asleep, how long they stayed asleep with the variables of exercise, daytime napping and caffeine, and alcohol use.

Exercise Longer

One way new moms can get better sleep is to extend their workouts, even just a bit can improve sleep. Exercise is consistently mentioned as a means to improve your physical and mental health. Yet, now it can be suggested to help new moms get better sleep. Researchers found that increasing your exercise workout by even a few minutes can have lasting effects on how long you sleep at night. Some participants in this study exercised as little as 15 minutes on some days. They reported staying asleep longer on the days they exercised longer than their regular workout. The type of exercise included aerobic and strength based workouts. Hence, the duration of exercise was more important than the kind of exercise that was implemented.

Nap Shorter

Another way new moms can get better sleep is to shorten their daytime naps, or at least keep it to the same amount of time they usually nap. The researchers also studied how daytime napping affected the group of new mothers. Most moms are told when they leave the hospital to “nap when the baby is napping.” For the first few weeks, this is especially critical just to function and get through the day. Waking up every two hours to feed or care for your baby forces the need to nap during the day. However, the study found that for mothers who had older infants, it took them longer to fall asleep at night if their daytimes naps were longer than usual. This also resulted in the same participants experiencing more episodes of waking up in the middle of the night. Hence, staying awake and shortening your naps can help you get better sleep.

Consistent Schedule can help new mothers

A third way new mothers can get better sleep is to keep a consistent daily schedule as much as possible as your baby grows. The same researchers examined how long it took both stay at home and employed mothers to fall asleep at night. They found the employed group was able to fall asleep more quickly than the stay at home group. They noted that the need for a consistent schedule for employed mothers naturally created a more consistent daily sleep and wake schedule; thereby making it easier to fall asleep at night versus a schedule with more flexibility. Stay at home mothers can also keep a consistent daily schedule to help improve their sleep.

Although the participants for this study were mothers, it would seem evident that the same advice could be utilized for both parents; especially during the newborn phase. New parents experience a myriad of reactions to the newly discovered stress of having a baby. Sleeping better can help new mothers and fathers cope with the pressures that accommodate new parenting.

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