Dealing with sleep deprivation during the newborn phase is no joke.
It can affect everything – your physical and mental health, your relationship, your job, your baby – basically your whole life!
A lot of soon-to-be-moms are actually terrified of this phase.
Just take a look at the number of postings asking how to survive newborn sleep deprivation on forums, Reddit, Quora, and offline.
So how do you not go insane when you’re lacking sleep while still taking care of your baby?
How did other experienced parents survive this phase without dying (metaphorically speaking) or killing each other?
In this article, I’ve compiled the most common and unusual advice from parents online and a mix of my tips on how to cope with a lack of sleep with a newborn.
I hope this will help you survive this tough phase.
Pick two to 4 tips, apply them and see how it goes.
Hang in there and start scrolling!
I hope you’ll love the products we recommend! Just a quick note: if you click on a product link below and decide to buy it, we may earn a small commission.
How To Survive Newborn Sleep Deprivation
This is probably the no. 1 tip that I wished someone told me when I had my newborn.
You can do everything by the book, follow all the tips and advice you hear, read, and was given to you and you’ll still be sleep deprived.
So try to learn to manage your expectations about the newborn phase.
Your routine will mostly revolve around your baby for a few months. And sometimes it can get boring and lonely, especially if you’re doing it on your own.
Expect to just always be so dang tired and sleep-deprived all the time.
So you won’t get extremely frustrated when you don’t get enough sleep or rest.
Don’t compare yourself to others
It won’t help to know that your friend or someone, has a lot of help with their newborn. Or that they have an easy-going baby that sleeps for 8 hours at night,
It’s pointless knowing these things as it won’t help with your sleep deprivation.
And comparing yourself to them will only make you feel worse.
We are all different, so don’t ever compare yourself to others.
If you have a willing, helpful spouse, then schedule shifts with them.
Discuss splitting the night shift or taking over by a certain time, especially if one or both of you are working.
Figure out which hours are you both most functional and based your shifts on that.
Make sure to sleep in separate rooms, so the other will get an undisturbed sleep. Or use earplugs or white noise!
Taking turns with your spouse will let you both get some rest and will lessen the resentment that you might be feeling.
I mostly survived by watching TV shows. It was the only way that I could stay awake.
I actually learned to watch without any sounds and just be content with the subtitles, so I wouldn’t wake my baby while I was pumping milk.
Always make some.
I wasn’t a big coffee drinker until I stopped breastfeeding and decided I need the extra boost to help me get through another sleepless night.
That will instantly rejuvenate and wake you up!
So schedule that in if you need to, and create a reminder on your phone if you have to!
Or when your baby is awake and would cry when you’re not in sight, put them in a portable bassinet (like the HALO BassiNest Swivel Sleeper 3.0 or a baby lounger, and bring them with you to the bathroom.
It can be hard to get anything done with your baby but there are ways to do it.
Sleep when you can
Yes, I know, the usual advice “sleep when the baby sleeps” is quite annoying.
But there’s some merit to it. And you don’t really have to take it literally.
Newborns sleep between 14 – 19 hours a day and you won’t get anything done if you sleep like your baby!
You just choose a time to take a nap when your baby sleeps.
Don’t do any chores, work, etc. Just go to sleep with your baby.
So you can add more to the broken sleep you’re already having at night.
Use baby sleeping products
Because they can help your baby sleep. This means you might also get more sleep!
It’s not a guaranteed sleeping machine though and your baby might hate being in the SNOO.
But if there’s a chance that it can help, then take it!
Especially if you have the budget.
Just find ways to help your newborn sleep in their bassinet.
Sleep at night with your baby
If your baby sleeps by 7 pm or 8 pm, then go to bed too.
That’s another way to get more sleep!
Forget the dishes, the laundry, work, etc., and just go to sleep.
Everything else can wait, just not your sanity.
Improve your sleeping techniques and habits
There are some methods to help you sleep faster, so you can have a longer rest, like a meditation technique, military method, etc.
Take a class on sleeping techniques if needed and or watch youtube videos about it and just try it out.
Find ways to help baby sleep longer
Check out some methods here on how to help your little one sleep better and longer, so you too can get more sleep!
Staying for weeks on end indoors will make you insane.
Try to go out at least once a week or more with your baby.
Your little one also needs some sun anyway, especially if they have jaundice so try to go out and get some natural sunlight and air.
The change in environment will refresh you and will give you a bit of a boost to tackle another tiring day or sleepless night.
Start a routine
It can help get your baby on a more predictable schedule. So if you can already manage, start a routine as much as possible, like the Eat-Wake-Sleep routine.
Once your baby is on board with it, you can more or less estimate their waking hours and sleeping times, making things a little bit easier for you.
Try formula feeding
If you’re exclusively breastfeeding but if the lack of sleep is making you a zombie, give your baby one formula feeding at night.
They’re bound to sleep longer because they feel fuller with formula milk.
If you’re open to the idea, maybe slowly give up breastfeeding and just give your baby formula milk.
I know how heartbreaking it can be as you already went through so much to give your baby your milk.
I’ve been through that before and I felt so awful and I felt like a failure for not being able to give my baby my milk.
But if exclusively breastfeeding is slowly wearing you down, to the point that you can’t take care of your baby safely and properly anymore, then maybe formula milk is worth considering.
It’s a controversial topic but if breastfeeding is becoming extremely hard or your baby is waking up every 30 minutes or so, you can try co-sleeping using the safe sleep seven methods.
Just research it thoroughly, ask questions and join relevant groups to learn more about the Safe Sleep Seven.
Learn various hacks
Conserve your energy by learning a lot of hacks, while taking care of your baby.
For example, instead of ordering food every day, cook a large number of freezer meals. Then you just heat it whenever you and your spouse are hungry.
Buy more baby clothes, crib sheets, etc., so you don’t need to keep doing the laundry.
Put another set of crib sheets and mattress protector on top of the sheet and protector. So when your baby has a diaper blowout, you just remove the other set of cover and protector!
Join related groups
There’s a Facebook group called The Beyond Sleep Training Project, in which members can offer advice and ways to survive the newborn sleep deprivation phase.
You can also turn to Reddit, Quora, or other online forums and groups, to get some much-needed support and advice.
Start sleep training
Wait until you and your baby are ready, then start sleep training them.
Choose a technique you know you’ll be comfortable with, as some methods might not sit well with you, like the CIO or Ferber method.
There are also some baby sleep workshops, books, and certified baby sleep experts that can help you sleep train.
Talk it out
Especially if sleep deprivation is exacerbating underlying mental health issues.
Get some help from a professional, disclose your issues to a close friend or open up to your spouse.
Put out notes
There’s one mom who said she and her husband used to put up sweet post-it notes on their mirror.
They’d write messages like “We love each other,” “Sleep deprivation is temporary,” and “We love our baby.”
It might seem silly but I can just imagine being so tired to the point of crying and giving up when you see a message like that.
I think anyone would instantly have their spirits lifted seeing notes like that. Or be reminded of what really matters.
So try it with your spouse. Or do it for yourself.
There’s this poem “The Last Time” and every time I’m reminded of this, it just tears me up. This has helped me tremendously, especially when things are becoming extra difficult during the newborn phase.
Put it somewhere prominent. So you can always look at it when you’re having a hard time dealing with sleep deprivation while taking care of your newborn.
Take pics and videos of your baby
One, it’s to keep yourself busy and awake.
And two, to remind you how this newborn phase goes by so fast.
It will help shift your perspective and let you appreciate this phase, even when you’re in the thick of things.
Document the newborn phase
I basically posted all pics and videos of my baby on my private social media account and made an online journal of our day-to-day life.
I would write lengthy captions, telling stories, anecdotes, my baby’s milestones, etc,
Sometimes I would be too tired to think of what to write, so I just type in some emojis in the caption.
And sometimes, it was cathartic to just post my frustrations about being tired and sleep-deprived all the time.
Documenting that first year with my baby has helped me to stay present and to focus more on the gift that we have.
It also made me feel like I’m not alone, as my family and friends would be commenting sweet and encouraging words.
You don’t need to do it online as I did.
You can just have it in a private notebook or journal.
But putting down all my thoughts, whether they were happy or sad or annoying, has helped me tremendously. It might also work for you.
Get some help
If you have family or close friends living nearby, ask for their help to look after the baby for a few hours, at least once or twice a week.
Find out more about flexible daycare options, hire a night nurse or nanny, if your budget permits.
FAQ on Sleep Deprivation with Baby
How do you survive a sleepless night with a newborn?
You can survive a sleepless night with a newborn by taking shifts with your partner, watching shows, hiring help, or asking for help from your family and close friends, etc.
How much sleep do moms of newborns get?
Moms of newborns get an average of 4-5 hours of broken sleep.
Breastfeeding moms who don’t co-sleep with their newborns might get less.
Is it normal to be sleep deprived with a newborn?
Yes, it’s normal to be sleep deprived with a newborn. It’s the only norm there is if you have a new baby and you don’t have a nanny.
So there’s really no choice but to adapt to this phase and do everything you can to survive it for a few months.
It will eventually get better, it won’t last.
Bottom Line on How To Survive Newborn Sleep Deprivation
This won’t last forever.
Plus you don’t have a choice anyway and can’t do anything about it. Except, accept that this is your reality now.
It will make your PPD worse.
But remember, this is temporary. Things will eventually get better.
And just like any other parent out there, you will eventually adjust to this phase.
And even if you’re still having a hard time adapting, know that this won’t last.
You just need to survive this phase and ride this out.
So good luck mama! You got this!