Fatherhood brings many challenges: dirty nappies, a depleted social life and a messy house to name just a few. But two of the toughest challenges a father will have to deal with is their lack of sleep and high stress levels.
A new-born drinks about 1.5-3 ounces every 2-3 hours which means that any parent will usually have to wake up the same amount of times to purely just feed the baby. Of course, that's not even taking into consideration all of the other times the baby wakes up for nappy changes or just for the sake of it.
Broken sleep over a sustained period of time can even cause the toughest of parents to break. A chronic sleep-restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight loss or weight gain.
For those fathers that have little time off through paternity leave, can experience an overwhelming sense of stress as the lack of sleep and absence from the workplace and routine can cause an individual to work harder and for longer than usual upon returning to the workplace. The littlest of problems within the workplace can cause an individual to react differently compared to a well-rested individual, and making rational decisions can become more difficult as the work-load increases.
I've experienced first-hand, both high-levels of stress and sleep deprivation, so here are my top tips for dealing with both should you soon become a father for the first time.
Getting a good night's sleep
Don't worry that you won't hear your baby cry. One off the biggest worries for new parents is that they won't hear their baby crying. A baby is a natural alarm clock and mothers tend to be attuned to their cry. Dads have to try a little harder, and if you're like me and you don't easily wake then placing a baby monitor under your pillow should do the trick... it does for me.
In the first three months of fatherhood don't waste time catching-up with Game of Thrones or any other TV series. Focus on the important chores and getting them done, don't worry about the non-essential tasks as you can complete them once you have established a routine.
Sleep wherever and whenever
Sleep when your baby sleeps, don't worry too much about the time or place; it could be in the car (of course when you have pulled over into a safe napping place), on the bus or on the sofa. The more sleep you can fit in, the more chance your body and mind has to revitalise itself.
Say yes to help
Accept any help that you can get, and whilst many people are resistant at first, but accept the help. Whether it is a family member, friend, or babysitter, welcome the helping hand so you can get a few hours of sleep. You will soon learn that this time away from your child is essential and most importantly needed!
Have a bath
Take a 15 minute soak in the bath using Epsom salts. I recently read that the salts seep into your body and increase your magnesium levels. By increasing your magnesium levels, you are helping yourself to become more relaxed.
Press your acupuncture points
These points can be found on either side of the bridge of your nose, around your eyes, soles of your feet and fists. All you need to do is rub gently or press these points for an instant release of tension and it's some you can do at any point: feeding the baby, in a meeting at work, or out for a family trip.
Delegate your workload
Once returning to work, don't feel guilty by passing work onto your colleagues. Through delegation, not only will you alleviate the pressure of the workload that faces you upon your return, but it can also give your colleagues the chance to try out something different, excel at it or even have a fresh perspective on the task. Either way, it's great for the both of you.
For those parents that are looking to get a good night's sleep, the following guides are worth a read: 100 tops tips for getting a great night's sleep and 8 ways for parents to get a better night's sleep.
My advice to any fathers unsure about dealing with either sleep or stress is to ask your friends, family, doctor, Google it or do what I do and ask my Twitter friends for help;
@TheYorkshireDad comfort food and a solid breakfast help get through a day after minimal sleep!— Mike Wedmann (@mrwclarkson) May 19, 2015
@TheYorkshireDad Co-sleep (following safety guidelines, obv). Stock up the freezer with quick meals (batch cook/pizza etc). Eat chocolate.— Samantha Gouldson (@SamGouldson) May 19, 2015