How to achieve a +31 hour sleep surplus in your first year of being a new parent!
My wife and I are expecting very soon. As you would assume, the pending addition is on the top of our minds and the topic of most conversations.
We’ve been told numerous times our lives are about to change. And speaking with new parents I’ve found beyond the joy and smiles, there is an ugly side — sleep deprivation.
I get it. It’s part and parcel. Baby comes first. Always. Sleep is just something that you learn to manage. Feeling like one of the walking dead becomes the norm. Accept it.
For me who has spent years reaping the benefits of prioritizing sleep, this is terrifying me.
- How will I function going from 9 hours per night to a broken 4 hours?
- What happens if I don’t sleep at all!
Parents lose an average of 350 hours of night-time sleep the first year of their baby’s life.
Not to mention to effect of interrupted sleep, reducing the chance to achieve the deepest level of sleep — REM. REM is where I do my best work. It means everything to me.
In my attempts to develop a sleep deprivation avoidance strategy, one piece of advice has stuck with me.
Sleep when the baby sleeps.
Even if it’s a short nap. Or multiple short naps. Or 2 minutes with your eyes closed. First off, let go of any resistance you might have to napping. You’re not being lazy.
Studies have shown a brief nap after lunch improves alertness and performance. Naps also can minimize your risk of having an accident due to sleep deprivation. A study of shift workers found that eliminating naps resulted in a 38% increase in accidents. And the less sleep you get the higher the risk.
Driving while sleep deprived can be as dangerous as driving drunk.
Forget about the dishes — prioritize your naps
The average baby naps 2 to 4 times a day during their first year. Huge opportunity.
I’ll be using this time to take a 20- to 30-minute rest. For me the benefits outweigh the time investment.
My new parent sleep deprivation avoidance strategy
(Need to warn you that I am already a pro napper — I have a 20 minute nap daily)
Objective: Retain my sanity by maximizing napping opportunities.
- Limit naps to 20 minutes: Despite how much I’d love to extend the nap to 9.5 hours. I’ll allow myself to take 2x20 minute naps if the baby is sleeping for a few hours.
- Get Google Assistant to set the alarm: HEY GOOGLE WAKE ME UP IN 20 MINUTES (you’ll never turn back after this gem).
- Strategically use human capital: Invite visitors to ‘see the baby,’ open the door, give them the baby. Go and nap. Wake up. Take the baby back. Wave goodbye. Calculate value created by human capital. Repeat invite.
- Napucchino: Thanks Daniel Pink. Drink coffee, nap. Wake up feeling 1,000 times better as the coffee takes hold.
- Achieve an annual target +350 hours of napping on top of maximum overnight sleep. This will leave me with a sleep debt of 0.
- 1.04 hours / 62.4 minutes per day of napping required
- 20 minutes per nap x 3 per day = 60 minutes
- One extra nap per week = 20 minutes
- Total nap time per week = 7 days x 60 minutes + 20 minutes = 440 nap minutes per week
- Total nap time per year = 440 nap minutes x 52 weeks = 22,880 minutes = 381 hours of napping
- Total sleep surplus/deficit = +31 hours!
All achieved by sleeping when the baby sleeps… at least 3 naps per day.
Good luck for any parents-to-be out there! I’ll be thinking of you as I put this into practice!
PS — check out how AWESOME the Google Assistant is at setting my alarm. No fuss, 100% on time, everytime.
Michael Ashton is the Growth Lead of Silentmode, a techwear and wellness company that unlocks the power of breathing. Through immersive physical products, guided breathwork and a connected ecosystem, Silentmode maximises and optimises rest and performance naturally.
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