He may have only welcomed his third baby on Monday, but Prince William was back on royal duty yesterday making a surprise appearance at the annual Anzac Day service at Westminster Abbey yesterday, alongside his brother Prince Harry and soon-to-be sister-in-law Meghan Markle.
But cutting short his paternity leave may well be something the Duke regrets as he was filmed having a tough time staying awake during the service. Aww.
Footage from the event appears to show the new dad-of-three drifting off before quickly blinking himself back awake.
Despite him telling reporters that: “Sleeping’s going reasonably well so far, so he’s behaving himself, which is good,” it seems Prince William is in the familiar fog of newborn sleep deprivation.
When you need to catch those ZZZs wherever, and whenever you can.
How can parents cope with sleep deprivation?
“Newborns wake frequently and require regular feeding so it is inevitable that parents will endure broken sleep for a few months,” explains Lucy Shrimpton, The Sleep Nanny and expert at The Baby Show.
“The advice of ‘sleep when your baby sleeps’ is well intended but easier said than done, especially if you have other young children to take care of.”
So how do new parents power through the post-baby sleep loss?
Steal your moments
You might not be able to take a full disco nap, but make like William and rest your eyes when you can. “When you do have the opportunity to rest, take it. It may not be sleep but rest is the next best thing,” advises Lucy Shrimpton.
“Perhaps when baby sleeps, you can have a quiet time with your other child/children rather than vigorous activity. Taking deep, intentional breaths (meditating) will also help. Don’t under estimate the value of resting your body and mind.”
Put rest at the top of the to-do list
Tidying the house can wait. “This is one of the hardest things for new parents to do but resting during the day will lessen the effects of sleep deprivation and improve the quality of your sleep at night,” says Silentnight’s sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan
“It’s always too easy to say “I’ll just tidy this room. I’ll just get some chores done.” And before you know it, baby is awake and needing your attention again,” she says.
“But it’s important that you stop and rest; sometimes even a break of 5-10 minutes can be sufficient to enable the body to renew energy physically and mentally. Drink a glass of water or eat a piece of fruit, stretch, breathe deeply from your diaphragm, lie down, close your eyes, listen to music or nothing at all. Use the time to recharge physically, mentally and emotionally.”
Think yourself rested
“Your mind will believe what you tell it, especially in the night or when you are tired because that’s when you are less rational and your limbic brain is firing,” advises Lucy Shrimpton.
“So be sure to keep telling yourself that you will be just fine in the morning and you will get just as much sleep as you need.”
Beat wake up woes
It is inevitable that you will be woken, sometimes repeatedly, during the night in the early days of your baby’s life. However, there are a few ‘tricks’ that you can use to get yourself back to sleep more easily each time you are woken.
“First of all, be prepared,” advises Dr Ramlakhan. “Try to have everything on hand for a quick feed or nappy change and if you have to put a light on, use a low-level bedside lamp rather than a bright overhead light. The less time you are up and exposed to light, the easier it will be to get back to sleep again.”
Dr Ramlakhan also recommends avoiding checking the time when you do wake up. “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.”
Eat your way to better sleep
Consider your nutrition. According to Lucy Shrimpton we crave foods that give us a quick energy boost or foods that are quick to grab when we are tired, but this merely adds to the problem. “Be sure to eat regularly and fuel your body with the macronutrients it needs to give you more sustainable energy and clarity. Slow release carbohydrates, plenty of vegetables and protein will really help.”
“Staying hydrated and eating the right foods such as wholegrains, nuts, fruit and veg can help sustain your energy levels – rather than quick-fix sugary snacks, which are likely to leave you feeling even more tired,” adds Jo Wheatley, Netmums Associate Editor.
White noise isn’t just for babies
Hearing every little gurgle, grunt or grissle? “Many new parents find that they hear every slight noise that baby makes and they even start to imagine they can hear them crying,” says Dr Ramlakhan. Y”ou may find it helpful to use some white noise to block out the sound of every tiny sob and whimper. You can buy white noise machines or use a fan to create some even background sound.”
Learn how to power nap
Every new parent should power nap and according to Dr Ramlakhan anyone can learn how to do it. “A power nap is is a short sleep lasting 5 to 15 in which you might be sitting or lying comfortably in a well-ventilated room, progressively relaxing muscles and breathing deeply from the stomach,” she explains.
“You will approach a near sleep state without actually falling asleep and will be aware of yourself during this time. Incorporating visualisation techniques into your power nap – relaxing scenes, for example – can make it even more effective.”
“If you are really exhausted you might find it helpful to use a stopwatch or alarm clock to stop you falling into a deep sleep,” Dr Ramlakhan adds. “The more you practice it, the easier it will get to rouse yourself after the required time and the more relaxed and rejuvenated you will feel afterwards.”
Ask for help
Don’t just plough on in zombie mode. “If you are desperately sleep deprived and finding it hard to function, you must ask for help,” says Lucy Shrimpton. “Yours and your children’s safety and wellbeing could be at risk if you try to carry on in a terribly sleep deprived state.”
According to Lucy, if you are getting less than 5 hours (even broken) sleep in any 24 hour period, this could be dangerous. “Allow others to help you out so that you can be the best parent for your child,” she adds.
Get some exercise
Exercise has probably slipped way down the to-do list since the arrival of your new baby, but execise is not only a stress buster, it can also help you up the ZZZs.
“Exercise helps to reduce levels of adrenaline and other stress hormones, it boosts the production of hormones which ‘repair’ the body thus making your immune system and overall health more robust,” explains Dr Ramlakhan.
“You will spend more time in deep sleep and it certainly helps to alleviate that ‘tired but wired’ feeling that can stop you relaxing and falling asleep.”
Remember, though that exercise doesn’t mean having to go to the gym or go out running. “Even a 20 minute brisk walk is great exercise and can boost the production of the energising feel good hormones, endorphins.”
Up all night with a fussy baby? Getting fresh air and gentle exercise will help to sustain you the next day. “With Spring in the air, a daily stroll with the pram and the little ones will do wonders for mum and dad too,” advises Lucy Shrimpton.
“Caffeine and alcohol are stimulants – use sparingly if you’re a new parent and your sleep is already being disrupted,” advises Dr Ramlakhan.
Caffeine has a direct impact on reducing sleep quality. “The half-life of caffeine is approximately five hours. This means that it can take up to 10 hours to completely remove all of the caffeine from your body if you drink a cup of tea or coffee. 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,” Dr Ramlakhan adds.
Declutter your sleep environment
Bed overloaded with baby paraphanalia? Time to clear it. “Keep your sleep environment free of clutter and baby’s toys. Keep all mobile phones and computer equipment out of your room too. Your bedroom should look and feel like your sanctuary,” advises Ramlakhan. “The ideal temperature for good sleep is slightly cool so keep windows open or have a fan in the room.”
Dr Ramlakhan also recommends using aromatherapy oils to promote relaxation and sleep. “Place a few drops of lavender in a cup of hot water on the windowsill 20 minutes or so before you go to bed.”
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