Sleep. The Final Frontier. It’s this land of peace, quiet, happiness … and for new parents, unexplored riches.
For new dads, sleep is this forbidden fruit that teases you with its sweet, succulent juices; the carrot being dangled in front of you that drives you to insanity as you chase it unsuccessfully. This is a battle that you will not win. You were never going to win it. So, just let that sink in and deal with that new reality first.
There is light at the end of this long and winding and almost never ending tunnel. I promise. After a few months, the newborn will settle into more of a routine and some sleep will finally become more of a reality for both the baby and for you.
Humans are sleeping much less than they did in the past. But that’s not the end of it, unfortunately. The quality of our sleep has suffered, as well. Especially for parents. Sleep deprivation can cause some pretty serious side effects and impact our performance at work, at play, in the gym and even in the bedroom. Poor sleep is linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression. It is also one of the strongest risk factors for obesity. It can hamper your ability to get amped up for your next sexy time performance with baby mama.
We talk so much about how to earn that victory of getting a child to sleep through the night. But in order for us fathers to truly practice the art of being awesome at fatherhood, we need to function properly. And optimal function does not exist without a proper night’s sleep.
Here are some sleep training tips to get your baby sleeping like a boss.
TURN DOWN THE HEAT.
Lower temperatures equal better sleep. For men, this can mean dropping that thermostat to somewhere in the ballpark of 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s a pretty decent variance, so it will be up to you to figure out the sweet spot. But, use those lower temps from the A/C as an excuse to cuddle up with that significant other under the covers and turn the heat up in other ways.
TURN DOWN THE VOLUME.
Loud noises are going to interrupt sleep. Aim to keep things as quiet as possible or look into something that generates some white noise (like a fan or an app that plays the sound of ocean waves) to help drown out the sounds of things like traffic or the neighbors getting it on in the apartment next door. If all else fails, you can always try ear plugs.
TURN OFF THE LIGHTS – EMBRACE THE DARKNESS.
Keep your circadian rhythm in check by keeping things dark when you go to sleep. Light is for the day. The night time is the right time for darkness. Even small amounts of light can screw up your melatonin and totally mess your evening of shuteye.
BACK AWAY FROM THE TECHNOLOGY – CELL PHONES INCLUDED.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and especially email can all wait until the morning, especially if you’re checking in from your phone. Stop it.
BAN THE BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL.
You’re likely reading this off of a computer screen right now. The light waves emanating from that screen stimulates the brain similar to the midday sunshine. In other words, it tricks the mind into thinking it’s still wakey wakey time. Block the blue lights by using programs like F.lux (it softens the light from your computer screens).
[F.lux – https://justgetflux.com/]
GET MORE VITAMIN D.
Wake up, go outside and see the sun, you freakin’ vampire. Like, not immediately … put on some pants, at least. Upping your intake of natural sunlight and getting some good ol’ vitamin D from that that big bright orb in the sky will do wonders to reset your circadian rhythm to its optimal pattern. Essentially, you want to be much more alert and awake during the day and tired at night.
STICK TO A SLEEP RITUAL.
Sleep training for a newborn includes developing a nightly routine to help the baby understand when it is time for bed. Dads: this is the same thing you should be doing each and every night, as well – minus the bath time rubber duckies. Lower the lights, sing yourself a song, say a prayer, write down some notes in a journal. Whatever it is that you can do to let your mind know that it’s time to end the day … do it. And then keep doing it every single night.
INVEST IN A GREAT MATTRESS.
While you should be aiming for 7-8 hours of shuteye per night, it’s also the quality that is important here. If you are sleeping a mattress that you’ve had since your high school Prom days, you’re doing it wrong. Invest in a great mattress that works best for you. Look, you’ll be spending almost a third of your life on this thing (think about that), so you should more than happy dropping as much cash on your bed as you did on your man-cave.
Does this mean we all need to jump in bed and sleep the night away for a solid 10 hours a night? Don’t we all wish. But, we all know that this is just not feasible for all of us with work demands and kids and everyday life going on. In fact, you could still sleep for 7, 8, even 10 hours or more and still wake up feeling tired and worn out. That’s a result of a screwed up sleep cycle. And if your sleep cycle is jacked up, you need to get to work in order to finally get some meaningful rest. Try the steps above and see what happens.