February 2018

    New Parent? You Have Permission to Nap
  1. New Parent? You Have Permission to Nap


    Unless you plan on becoming a Navy SEAL, the sleep deprivation you experience as a new parent will likely be the most severe you ever encounter. Need proof? During the first 24 months of your child’s life, a survey revealed you’ll lose an average of six months’ sleep.

    One of the best things you can do for your overall wellbeing during this incredible period of your life is to take daily naps. For most of us, the last nap we had was some time during our senior year of college, but for new moms and dads, we encourage a short daily nap as often as possible.

    Sleep makes everything better

    The recommended amount of nightly sleep for adults is seven to nine hours. Whether you’re doing all the nightly feedings yourself or dividing them up with your better half, you’re not going to meet that nightly quota during the first few months of your child’s life. That means you’re going to be exhibiting signs of sleep deprivation.

    A person deprived of sleep experiences more than just a tired body. In one study published by the Journal of Neurobiology and Circadian Rhythms, researchers found that sleep-deprived individuals had trouble identifying facial expressions of happiness and sadness.

    It’s not only your capacity to recognize other people’s emotions that suffers. When you’re not getting enough sleep, your ability to express joy in your face and voice is also impaired.

    Enter the benefits of a nap.

    Napping does a body good

    A short cat nap (we’re talking no more than 20 minutes) improves your mood and cognitive abilities. Naps do everything from restoring alertness to reducing accidents and creating feelings of rejuvenation.  

    New Parent You Have Permission to Nap

    Get the timing right

    Most experts recommend taking either a short 20-minute nap or completing a normal adult sleep cycle, which lasts 90 minutes. Anywhere in between or over that timeframe, and the napper will awake in a groggy state, which for our purposes is not what we’re after. Unless you’re certain your baby will snooze for an hour and a half, you may want to play it safe and set your alarm for 20 minutes.

    If you’re a stay-at-home parent, then the best advice is to nap when the baby naps. Both stay-at-home and working parents should try to avoid napping past 3 p.m. as it may affect your ability to fall asleep later that night.

    Ditch the stigma

    Napping is viewed as somewhat taboo in American culture, often creating perceptions of laziness. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, then you may feel guilty or judged for napping instead of doing the housework, and if you’re a working parent, then you might worry that your boss and coworkers will think you’re slacking off.

    The truth is you’re going to be a more productive and relatable person if you nap during the first couple years of your child’s life. You are 100% allowed to let the dishes and laundry pile up during this time in your life, but you must take care of yourself in order to take care of your baby.

    New Parent You Have Permission to Nap

    Ask for help

    We know, we know. As a new parent, you want to feel like you have it all together (or just mostly together). But here's a little secret: nobody does! It's totally OK to ask for help. Call a friend or family member to come over and hold your adorable baby while you take a nap. They'll likely be thrilled you asked, and it gives you some much-needed rest. Think of it this way: if your friend called you with this request, you'd be happy to help. Know they would do the same for you.

    Happy napping, everyone!

    Pregnant? New parent or have small kids? Tired? Get tips and info on our special site for exhausted moms. 

    Ready to start sleeping better?

    momsneedsleep.com exhausted moms


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  2. The New Parent’s Guide for a Better Night’s Sleep
  3. The New Parent’s Guide for a Better Night’s Sleep


    Between the constant feedings, dirty diapers, and that growing pile of laundry that’s threatening to establish itself as your home’s overlord, you just aren’t getting enough of that sweet (oh-so-sweet) sleep you want.

    By now you’re probably rolling your tired eyes and grumbling, “Tell me something I don’t know,” but hang in there, moms and dads. We have five simple strategies new parents can use to improve their sleep.

    What it really means to sleep like a baby

    Babies actually have a sleep cycle that’s in overdrive. At three months, babies need a hefty 15-16 hours of sleep. Babies will sleep (an often sporadic) 10 hours at night and 5 hours during the day napping. Plus, the average newborn spends 50 to 80 percent of their sleep time in REM and takes only 50 minutes to complete a full sleep cycle. In comparison, adults spend 20 percent of their sleep time in REM and complete a full sleep cycle in 90 minutes. Translation: your baby’s brain races through sleep like a NASCAR driver, while yours is cruising the parking lot in first gear.

    A newborn’s speedy sleep pattern is also affected by their small tummies, which cause them to digest breast milk and formula at a rapid pace. That’s the reason they wake up every two or three hours feeling hungry. During the first few months when you’re keeping their schedule, you experience sleep fragmentation. These constant breaks in your sleep cycle cause you to spend less time in deep sleep and more time in light sleep. Likely coming as no surprise—this is a recipe for exhaustion.

    How to maximize the sleep you’re getting

    Things will eventually improve. Your baby will start sleeping through the night and the new parent anxieties that keep you up will lessen. Until that time comes, you’ll want to take some steps to ensure you maintain some semblance of rest.

    1. Nap when the baby naps

    It may sound trite, but one of the healthiest things you can do as a new parent is accept that you can’t do it all. Let your dishes and laundry pile up, and go take a nap. Even if you can’t complete a full sleep cycle, the extra rest will do good for your body and mind.

    2. Give your bedroom an easy makeover

    While changing your wall color and buying new bedding would be nice, this isn’t that kind of makeover. Instead, consider making some alterations to your bedroom’s light, noise and temperature levels.

    You can make daytime naps easier by installing some blackout shades or wearing a sleep mask. We also recommend getting a white noise machine to drown out the buzz from the outside world.

    As for the temperature, it’s better to be on the cooler end of the spectrum. Our bodies’ core temperatures drop to initiate sleep. When we’re too warm, this process is slowed or stopped altogether. Ensure that you’ll drift off faster by keeping your bedroom’s temperature between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit.

    3. Let’s talk about that baby monitor

    Baby monitors are great, don’t get us wrong. But when your baby hits that four month mark, they’re starting to sleep in more regular sleep cycles. Consider separating from the baby monitor at this point, if even for just a night to start. While a monitor can be a helpful tool in feeling connected and safe, it can be an unnecessary sleep stealer once your child has established more consistent sleep. In regard to SIDs-related safety, check out a sensor pad or a device like Owlet instead for added peace of mind.

    4. Go for a stroll

    Try putting your baby in the stroller and heading out for a brisk walk (weather permitting, of course). Fresh air has a way of lifting spirits, and the sunlight will help regulate both you and your baby’s circadian clocks. Plus, adding movement to your day is great for your sleep and will help make you feel more alert during the day.

    5. Be aware of your caffeine consumption

    Because caffeine has a half-life of five to seven hours, it takes your body anywhere between 10-14 hours to fully be rid of it. A cup or two of coffee in the morning will likely not affect your sleep at night (and let’s be honest: sometimes it’s the only way to make it through the aforementioned sleep deprivation), but think about giving yourself a cutoff mid-afternoon.

    While a good night’s sleep may seem like a distant memory, remind yourself that this won’t last forever. In the meantime, take care of yourself and rest when you can. Sleep does wonders in making you the parent, spouse, and friend you want to be.


    Pregnant? New parent or have small kids? Tired? Get tips and info on our special site for exhausted moms. 

    Ready to start sleeping better?

    momsneedsleep.com exhausted moms

    Read more »
  4. How to Make Sleep a Family Priority
  5. How to Make Sleep a Family Priority


    Families share everything. From their genes down to their sense of humor, children take their cues from their parents. But there’s one personal trait that we may not realize is affecting our families. You guessed it—our sleep habits.

    In order for your household to function at its best, sleep has to become a family priority. Let’s talk about the importance of sleep for your family and discuss how you can improve it for everyone.

    How much sleep should everyone be getting?

    For adults, the recommended amount of nightly sleep is seven to nine hours. For children, it depends on their stage of development. Here’s a breakdown of the number of hours of sleep required per day, including naps:

    • Infants 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours
    • Children 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours
    • Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours
    • Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours
    • Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours
    • What happens when your family misses its sleep quota? 

    You know that not getting enough sleep will make you irritable, but one study suggests that sleep-deprivation causes adults to dole out harsher punishments.

    How to Make Sleep a Family Priority

    As for your kids? On top of the damage it does to their cognitive abilities and physical health, sleep-deprived children are cranky, more likely to behave badly, and often exhibit signs of hyperactivity and lack of focus (sleep deprivation is sometimes confused with ADHD in kids). Combine that with a tired parent’s short fuse and you have a recipe for more family feuds. By making a good night’s sleep a family initiative, you may be able to improve the emotional environment of your home.

    FOUR TIPS FOR A HEALTHY SLEEP ROUTINE

    1. Put the electronics to bed.

    The cues start with you. A survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that if a child’s parents slept with one or more electronic device on (e.g., smartphone, tablet) the child is more likely to do the same. The same survey found that both parents and kids sleeping with their devices exhibit poorer sleep quality than those who keep their devices off or out of the room.

    Pro tip: Set up a communal charging area in your home where you and your kids can plug in devices for the night. You’ll know they’re sleeping without their devices and getting better rest because of it.

    2. Eat dinner earlier.

    Young children take more time to digest their food. They need to eat at least two hours before bedtime to sleep well.

    3. Enforce your bedtime rules.

    Setting rules and sticking to them will make a big difference for everyone. Set a caffeine cutoff for 2 p.m., and set definite cut-off times for television, computers, and video games.

    4. Develop a consistent routine.

    Getting everyone to sleep at the appropriate time every night is a good start, but following a consistent bedtime routine signals to our brains that we’re going to sleep soon, allowing them to shut down even faster.

    How to Make Sleep a Family Priority

    Lay out clothes for the next day, brush teeth, and end the night with a wind-down activity such as reading together—which we recommend as both a great activity that’s been tied to academic performance and also as a relaxing activity to prepare the body for bed.

    As with everything else in your life as a parent, setting a good example of healthy sleep habits starts with you. It might be a challenge to reverse some bad habits (we recommend trying one new thing at a time) but the payoff is worth it. After all, healthier and happier families is something we can all get behind.


    Pregnant? New parent or have small kids? Tired? Get tips and info on our special site for exhausted moms. 

    Ready to start sleeping better?

    momsneedsleep.com exhausted moms

    Read more »
  6. Top 10 Signs You Need a New Mattress
  7. Top 10 Signs You Need a New Mattress


    Your mattress is an essential part of your everyday life, and you put a lot of thought into selecting just the right one for you. So it can be easy—and tempting—to believe that you and your mattress will be together forever. Unfortunately, no matter how amazing your mattress may be, this is one relationship that must come to an end.

    You can expect a good 7-10 years out of a premium mattress, but eventually it will succumb to the wear and tear of supporting your body every night. At that point, it stops providing you with proper support, leading to aches, pains, less-than-stellar sleep—and the need to find a replacement.

    But how do you know for sure when you need a new mattress? Here are 10 telltale signs:

    1. Obvious sagging

    The most visible indication that a mattress needs to be replaced, sagging may as well be an “It’s Time to Replace Your Mattress” sign. It’s also a symptom that applies to all mattress types, as springs break down over time, memory foam gets softer, and the fibers in other materials compress—all of which lead to sagging. Don’t wait for a crater to form in the middle of your bed. Even minor sags of 1-2 inches shouldn’t be ignored, as they can mean a lack of support for the most vulnerable parts of your body.

    2. Quite the impression

    Impression of hand on memory foamThis one applies specifically to memory foam mattresses and can be a bit tricky to decipher. See, memory foam is supposed to “remember” your body and sleeping position (hence the name)—but only to a certain degree. After you get out of bed, the foam should mostly return to its original position. However, over time the cellular structure of memory foam breaks down, becoming softer and losing its ability to bounce back, aka to support you. If your memory foam mattress has a body impression that stays long after you’ve gotten up, or if the impression is deeper than two inches, it’s time to replace it.

    3. The Goldilocks effect

    Memory foam mattress owners should also take note if their mattress becomes too hard or too soft. Because of memory foam’s sensitivity to temperature (the reason that many people “sleep hot” on memory foam mattresses), it will become hard over time when kept in a small room, or soft over time when kept in a warm room. This change in firmness can wreak havoc on your comfort.

    Guy Clutching Pillow Cant Sleep

    4. One lump or two?

    When the padding within the mattress shifts around over time, you may see lumps in your mattress. This uneven density can mean you’re not supported where you’re supposed to be. It can also cause uncomfortable pressure points. Though lumps are more common with lower-quality mattresses, it can also happen with higher-end mattresses that have run their course.

    5. Age is just a number…unless you’re a mattress

    Even if your mattress is showing none of the above signs, if it’s more than seven years old, you should apply some scrutiny to it. Most mattresses will need to be replaced after 7-10 years. Even if you think you’re sleeping fine, there’s a chance that you’ve just become slowly accustomed to a less-than-excellent sleeping experience.

    Man with back pain

    6. What a pain

    Sleep is a time for your body to recover from the stresses it experienced during the day, whether that’s an intense gym session or too much sitting at your desk. So if you wake up with more aches and pains than you had when you went to bed, your mattress is likely the culprit. Because of the gradual degradation and softening of a mattress’s materials, it loses its ability to provide crucial support for vulnerable areas like your neck, low back, and hips. On top of that, as cushioning gets worn down, it can create painful pressure points. When your back is sagging and springs are jabbing your hips, then waking up with aches and pains is inevitable.

    So if you wake up feeling beat up rather than refreshed, chances are your mattress needs to go (this is even more likely to be the case if you wake up with pain and it gets better throughout the day).

    7. Up all night

    If you can’t fall asleep, or frequently wake up during the night and adjust positions, it could be time to replace your mattress. Of course, other things like stress or poor sleep hygiene can keep you up at night, too. But if you’re tossing and turning into the wee hours, chances are your mattress no longer provides you with the proper comfort and you need a new one. If you seem to sleep through the night but still wake up tired, the same may very well be true.

    Pregnant woman with pillow over her head

    8. Sleeping for two

    One of the more exciting reasons for getting a new mattress is becoming pregnant. Because your body is undergoing so many changes during and after pregnancy, a customizable mattress and adjustable bed is a great choice that will provide support during every stage of the journey. Custom support for side-sleeping will help support your belly and prevent back pain during pregnancy, and can be easily changed back to your usual sleep preference afterward. Plus, an adjustable bed makes getting out bed easier when you’re pregnant. It also makes nursing more comfortable and can help protect abdominal muscles after a C-section.

    9. Active allergies

    Over time, most types of mattresses can accumulate allergens like mold, mildew, and dust mites. If you’re allergic to these irritants, that means that your mattress will trigger an allergic reaction. So if you notice yourself sneezing when you get close to the bed or a stuffed up in the morning, it’s probably time to evaluate your mattress situation. When choosing a new mattress, consider hypoallergenic materials like wool or latex.

    Unhappy woman next to sleeping man

    10. It’s not you, it’s me

    Sometimes everything is still perfectly fine with your mattress, but circumstances in your own life necessitate that you get a new one. This could be the case if you sustained an injury, lost or gained a significant amount of weight, or have a new bed partner. If your mattress is still in the prime of its life but you’re not getting the support you need anymore, don’t feel guilty about letting it go—just find a mattress donation location near you.

    Is it time for a new mattress? The leading consumer magazine just rated ours. 


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  8. 3 Parenting Tips for Creating Sleep Balance with Your Partner
  9. 3 Parenting Tips for Creating Sleep Balance with Your Partner


    Tell someone that you and your better half are expecting, and the first thing out of their mouth will be, “Congratulations!” The next will probably be, “Sleep while you can.”

    With newborns waking every two to three hours during their first three months, parents are coming up short on the seven to nine hours of nightly sleep recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. Sleep interruptions are the most severe with newborns, but can carry on in the following years as little ones navigate potty training, nightmares and the urge to climb in bed with their parents.

    For co-parenting couples, striking the right sleep balance with one another can be difficult, but it will be one of the most important things you can do for the sake of your child, your relationship, and your overall health. With that in mind, here are three tips to help parents strike a healthy sleep balance.

    3 parenting tips for creating sleep balance

    1. Divvy up the newborn night shift

    Many couples choose to put the responsibility of night feedings on one person’s shoulders, particularly if that individual is a stay-at-home parent or breastfeeding mom. But with most babies not sleeping through the night until the six-month marker or beyond, this can be extremely taxing.

    Studies have shown that sleep deprivation affects our abilities to interpret how our actions affect others and the other way around. So, unless we want to see our spouses become insensitive, socially-inept zombies, it’s probably best to split up the night.

    Approach night feedings with shifts. If one of you is naturally a night owl, let that person stay up later to tackle the first feeding while the other snoozes. Then swap so the night owl can sleep until morning. Another alternative is to switch on and off nightly, with one person getting a full night’s rest, while the other answers the baby.

    For breastfeeding mothers, these ideas may mean pumping ahead of time and getting your baby used to taking a bottle. No matter which method you choose, remember to be flexible with your routine, and acknowledge that from time to time, one of you may need to lean on the other for a little extra sleep.

    3 parenting tips for creating sleep balance

    2. Talk it out

    If your current sleeping setup isn’t working, make time to talk about it with your partner. Have the discussion when you’re both rested (more on that to come) and when you’re free from distractions (yes, your children count as distractions.) This will give you both a leg up in your abilities to listen and express yourselves.

    Resist the urge to frame the conversation around who does more on less sleep. Instead, explain the ways in which you’re struggling and ask for help. Odds are your partner has also been holding in strong feelings on this topic, so be ready to hear them out.

    Since parenting takes teamwork, try thinking of this conversation as reworking the playbook you and your teammate have been running. It’s not getting us the results we thought it would. How do we adjust so we can both feel like we’re winning?

    Lastly, be ready to have a conversation about sleep balance a few times over the course of your child’s life. Your kiddo’s sleep schedule will continue evolving as they grow. Keep the lines of communication open with your partner and you’ll both sleep happier.

    3 parenting tips for creating sleep balance

    3. Sleep more. Bicker less.

    Yet another motivation for striking a sleep balance, studies have shown that lack of sleep leads to more frequent and severe conflicts among couples. When you and/or your better half aren’t getting enough sleep, you’re more likely to bicker and have a harder time resolving the issues.

    If something’s bothering you, sleep on it and say your piece after getting some shut-eye.

    Bonus tip: Take turns sleeping in or napping on weekends.

    It may sound like a no-brainer, but Saturday and Sunday are the only days of the week where one of you can catch up on sleep while the other watches the kids. Try alternating weekends, or have one of you take Saturdays, while the other gets every Sunday.

    There’s no one-size-fits-all for sleep-deprived parents, but we hope these tips have given you some new ideas to try or inspired you to have a conversation about sleep balance with your partner. Just remember: you both deserve empathy, and you both deserve a good night’s sleep!

    Pregnant? New parent or have small kids? Tired? Get tips and info on our special site for exhausted moms. 

    Ready to start sleeping better?


    momsneedsleep.com exhausted moms



    Read more »
  10. How Sleep Aids in Weight Loss
  11. How Sleep Aids in Weight Loss


    Did you know that getting quality, restful sleep can help you lose weight?

    According to Sanjay Patel, M.D. a researcher at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, at least two dozen studies have confirmed that people who sleep less tend to weigh more. Studying almost 70,000 women over the course of 16 years, Patel and his colleagues discovered that women who sleep less than five hours a night were far more likely to gain weight than those who get at least seven and a half hours. And the difference wasn't negligible. In fact, they were 30% more likely to gain 30 or more pounds. Yikes.

    The sleep connection to appetite and metabolism.

    There are several different ways losing sleep can thwart your weight loss efforts. Research from the University of Chicago suggests that sleep deprivation may lead to a change in how our bodies regulate appetite, leading us to crave more food. “You may start not only eating more, but eating unhealthy foods — those high in fat and carbohydrates,” says Patel. “Another possibility is that because people who are sleep-deprived feel more fatigued, they exercise less. Sleep deprivation can also change your basal metabolic rate, slowing down how many calories you burn just doing basic life-sustaining activities, like breathing and maintaining body temperature.”

    The nitty gritty science of it.

    Michael Breus, Ph.D., clinical director of the sleep division at Southwest Spine & Sport in Scottsdale, Arizona, and author of Beauty Sleep, reports that sleep deprivation leads to an overproduction of ghrelin and a decrease in leptin production. Ghrelin is hormone that causes hunger; leptin is a hormone that prompts people to stop eating. This imbalance can lead to over-eating. Furthermore, the brain secretes growth hormones during sleep, which helps metabolize fat in the body.

    In short, the intertwined nature of sleep and weight loss continues to be uncovered, and in all cases it seems that better sleep contributes to a more ideal weight. If you're struggling to lose a few pounds, it might be time to refocus on your nightly slumber rather than the next juice cleanse.

    For more info about how different sleeping positions can help you sleep better, click here.

    Pregnant? New parent or have small kids? Tired? Get tips and info on our special site for exhausted moms. 

    Ready to start sleeping better?

    momsneedsleep.com exhausted moms


    Read more »