The birth of a child is a joyous
event, but for parents there are some side effects of having a new
baby - including heavy eyes and dazed expressions!

You might want to spend every minute
tending to your baby's needs, but parents have needs too. If these
are ignored, you might find yourself in 'sleep debt'. This is a
build up of lost sleep that can lead to health problems.

Many new parents are shocked by the
exhaustion they feel from looking after a baby. Newborns require
constant attention and regular feeds, meaning that parents can lose
out on hours of crucial sleep during the night. 

The National Sleep Foundation
recommends adults should be getting around seven to nine hours of
sleep per night. However, on average parents lose two hours of
sleep each night until their baby is five months old. This amounts
to 350 hours of sleep lost per year!

We've experienced the fatigue, short
temper and lack of focus from a poor night's sleep. But extreme
sleep deprivation can ultimately lead to you feeling down and
weakens your immunity.

Sleep loss can ease when your little
one starts sleeping through the night - for a child this means
getting a full six to eight hours. But this can come sooner for
some parents than others. So for now, we're giving you some tops on
how to reduce your sleep debt. 

How to get more

Take a nap -
napping has many benefits. It can help you stay alert during the
day after loosing sleep at night. Our energy levels naturally dip
around 3pm and our resident sleep expert Dr Nerina says that we
should power nap for around 10-20 minutes. 

Avoid stimulants -
try to avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Nicotine and caffeine
are stimulants. You may think that alcohol helps you to fall asleep
but it actually increases wakefulness during the night. Dr Nerina
says: "If you are having problems sleeping or are waking up feeling
tired no matter how much sleep you get, minimise caffeine and
increase your fluid intake by drinking more water, herbal teas and
dilute fruit juices. Remember, alcohol can also impair deep sleep
quality so you are likely to wake u[ feeling tired and fuzzy-headed
f you have overindulged the night before."

Get more sleep in
- if you haven't yet given birth, try to get as much
sleep now as possible. Getting extra sleep in advance could mean
that the sleep deprivation wont feel as overwhelming once the baby

Sleep when your baby
- it's all too tempting to get straight to that
pile of washing once your baby has finally dropped off. Instead,
make sure you get a lie down in a calm and relaxed environment.
It;s not aways a good thing to try and force your baby into a
sleeping pattern, this naturally develops in time. But of course
this means that parents can lose out on sleep at night time, so it
might be best to catch some shut eye whenever you can during the

Don't look at the
- Dr Nerina says: "try to avoid looking at your
clock and registering the time. If you do this, you are more likely
to start worrying about how little sleep you will get if you don't
fall asleep again. This then reduces your chances of getting back
to sleep even further!". Instead, she suggests lying on your back
and breathing deeply, trying to consciously relax each part of your
body from your head back to your toes. 


For more of Dr Nerina's sleep advice
visit the sleep toolkit here. Don't forget to join the conversation on
our Facebook and Twitter pages using the hashtag