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Tips to survive chronic sleep deprivation in motherhood


Pin for how to survive chronic sleep deprivation in motherhood.

 If you’re looking for tips to survive chronic sleep deprivation in motherhood, then, good news…this is it! 

*This article is not pertaining to any sleep disorders, just the “normal” amount of sleep deprivation that comes with new parenthood.

There is a huge difference between a “normal” amount of sleep deprivation (which is hard enough), and an extreme amount of sleep deprivation. What I’m addressing today is the average sleep-deprived parents.

If you are noticing that you are hallucinating or having super slowed reaction time, please please reach out for help. It can be easy for people to brush off a cry for help because it’s so normal for parents to get less sleep.

But, if this has crept into a serious concern, please understand you should ask for help!

mom holding baby, both yawning.

I am currently 7 months postpartum with our fourth baby, and we don’t always sleep well. That whole first year is just a big season in itself. 

There is so much preparation that goes into the postpartum season, but the sleep deprivation can last a few months or longer. 

Here, we will cover a few early postpartum tips, as well as some long-term sleep deprivation encouragement. 

We talk about “surviving” on the lack of sleep, but what about “flourishing”? 

Can we deeply embrace this all-consuming season in a way that is more than just “surviving”? 

I believe we can. 

In a little bit we will talk about some practical things we can do to make this a time that is sweeter and less uncomfortable.  

mom hand below a baby hand.

Right now I want to share the ONE biggest thing that made all the difference for “surviving” the deep sleep deprivation that comes with having babies. 


Being thankful in the season of sleep deprivation will make it all so much more enjoyable.

It is so easy to dwell on how tired we are, and count the few hours of sleep and end up feeling so cheated. 

wheat laying on psalm 107 in Bible.

First of all… God designed us to need sleep. 

If you have ever found yourself desperately tired at 3:45 am with a baby that will NOT go back to sleep… and you cry out to God and say, “God, WHY did you design me to need sleep?!” It can feel like a mean joke at times, can’t it?

But how often was Jesus tired, and wanting to rest and people kept pestering Him? 

Many, many times. And He set the perfect example of patience and empathy for us. 

This helpless little baby needs Mama, and that is God’s will for us in this season. And it is good.

God meets us in these moments. 

baby in knitted blanket being held by a mom in a knitted cardigan.

I was reading a really sweet book as a postpartum gift to myself (more on this later), and it was exactly what I needed. The author talked about being thankful in every season of motherhood. 

The newborn stage is a beautiful time, even if it is difficult. But if we wait until we are feeling more rested before we can really enjoy it, then we will miss it altogether. 

I was letting the enemy steal the joy of inviting a new person into the world. We were meant to be rejoicing!

newborn baby in white sleeper, mom giving a kiss on the head.

We often have to make the decision to be joyful before the “feelings” of joy come. And that’s what I had to do. 

Choosing to be thankful, even in the midst of all the sleep disruptions, is what made all the difference.

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thankfulness in the early days of the postpartum season changed everything. 

Mindset is so important, and that’s why we need to always address that first. 

“For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Luke 6:45b

I’m not saying it magically gets easier if we are thankful, but it will be so much more beautiful and rich, and dare I say… closer to what God had intended for us all along.

Practical ways to improve our sleep deprivation.

Now that we have discussed the mindset part, let’s get into some practical ways we can stay joyful in our sleep deprivation.

As new parents, the lack of sleep is going to be a resounding theme in life for the foreseeable future. Even if you diligently sleep-train and do a strict sleep schedule, the “routine” will inevitably be disrupted by life…. unless you never leave your house!

There will probably still be plenty of sleepless nights. 

Surviving chronic sleep deprivation in the postpartum period.

If you’re expecting a new baby, I want to say “Congratulations!”  

This is such a beautiful time. 

There are a few things we can do to prepare for the postpartum period as new mothers. 

Try to get as many hours of sleep as possible to stock up! 

Just kidding…. but not really kidding. 

After baby comes, and you snuggle in for the resting period, you should be napping whenever you get a chance. Even a short nap here and there can make a difference. 

Don’t you just love when people say “Sleep when the baby sleeps!”

sleep when the baby sleeps... fold laundry when the baby folds laundry.

This gets more and more tricky as you add more babies. It’s not so easy to take a nap when your toddler is on the loose!

When I’m postpartum, I usually have a few days of baby blues, and mood swings. This is definitely not made any better by the severe lack of deep sleep.

 Sometimes all those naps (even all through the night) just feels like a little snack instead of the meal of sleep that we truly desire. 

But sometimes the baby blues are worsened for me when I just shut myself in a dark room in the middle of the day trying to nap.  

At times our mental health needs to be prioritized above napping. 

*If you struggle with postpartum depression, please reach out to a trusted friend for help. 

sad woman resting her head on her arm.

So for new moms that aren’t getting enough sleep, what can we actually do? (Other than a good night’s sleep.) 

Surviving sleep deprivation by getting some sunshine.

woman wearing sun hat in the sunshine.

We can get some sunshine! Exposing our bodies to the sun’s rays, especially before noon, is known to help set our circadian rhythm.

Putting the baby in the sunshine during the day is great for them as well. I like to put the bassinet in front of a sunny window in those early weeks.

Surviving sleep deprivation by giving lots of grace.

mom sitting on a bed with baby laying on bed.

Let’s not underestimate the effects of sleep deprivation. I know there were moments where I thought…”I really shouldn’t be driving in this condition.” 

It’s easier to giggle about it now, but at the time it’s really hard!

Our physical health does take a toll with the insufficient sleep.

So, give yourself loads of grace.

This may also include making room for grace with others too. There may be people who think you should be going places or volunteering your time in certain ways, and you may have to say “No.” 

Have a discussion with your spouse about what you both expect and hope for in this postpartum season.

Don’t be hard on yourself for these times. People that haven’t had babies in many years, often forget how all-consuming that postpartum sleep-deprivation is. (No animosity here, just an observation.)

Don’t be afraid to say “No”.

Knowing that this is just a season can also be a huge encouragement. Newborn babies don’t stay little very long. 

It’s so cliche, but actually pretty accurate…”It goes so fast!”  

As completely unhelpful as that is to hear when you’re in the throws of a sleep regression with a teething 4 month old baby, it still holds true.

Surviving sleep deprivation by keeping it simple.

mom sneaking ice cream in a toy room .

“It goes so fast!”

Yes, we know. 

But with that in mind, we can breath a sigh of relief when we find ourselves feeding our kids the less-than-stellar foods. Keep the meals simple! It’s perfectly okay if you get a few ready to eat meals for this season. 

Snacky suppers are one of our favorites too. Especially if you have younger kids, they think this is the absolute best!

Just some meat, fruit, cheese, nuts, toast, popcorn, granola, etc. It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to be simple and fun and it’s always surprisingly satisfying for everyone. Then everyone is having more joy and less stress. 

Surviving sleep deprivation by reaching out.

hands over the Bible praying.

Sometimes you will find yourself just needing to reach out. Do you have a family member that is dying to see the baby? Invite them over and use that time to take a little rest. 

This may also include simply saying “Yes” to someone that wants to stop by and bring you a meal. Be honest about how you’re doing if they ask. 

Why is it so hard for us to be vulnerable with people? 

That’s one of the surest ways of deepening relationships with the ones around us. Let them in.

Surviving sleep deprivation by doing things you love.

Woman in a blanket, reading a book with a cup of coffee.

I talked earlier about getting myself a new book. This was my “treat”.

I would totally recommend having a little something special for yourself to enjoy during the postpartum season.

Maybe you don’t enjoy reading. Other ideas could include a new magazine, facial mask, a new series to watch on T.V., or an encouraging podcast.

Just something that you reserve until you’re in the thick of the sleep deprivation and could really use the boost.

Of course you don’t want to go overboard and spend a ton of money, make sure whatever you choose is something your husband is comfortable with!

Surviving sleep deprivation by doing things you normally do.

hands washing dishes with a sponge.

This one may seem silly, but please bear with me.

There is a tremendous amount of comfort (at least for some personalities) that comes from doing things that you’re familiar with.

There is no bigger life change than having a new baby. Doing those “normal” tasks that you are used to doing may bring you a lot of comfort.

Maybe you actually want to do the dishes or weed your garden.

Even when we’ve stocked up on tons of freezer meals, we end up wanting to cook because cooking brings me comfort.

Whatever this looks like for you, just let yourself do what brings you joy. 

Surviving sleep deprivation by freshening up. 

woman in the shower with hands in the water.

I know I’ve mentioned this before in my “self-care for homemakers“, but feeling fresh is such a huge morale boost for us.

Even when we don’t get much sleep, a nice hot shower can really make us feel alive.

Getting dressed (even in a nursing tank and leggings) can help us feel so much more put together as well. We don’t have to get crazy with doing anything fancy with our hair or makeup, but just getting dressed will be such a huge energy boost. 

Surviving sleep deprivation by moving your body.

mom doing lunges while high-fiving son.

It really seems counterintuitive, but a little exercise can really help our energy levels.

Those precious newborn snuggles just can’t be beat, but it’s a good idea to still carve out a little time for light exercise. This shouldn’t be strenuous or intense!

Take it slow.

But give your body a little movement. Maybe you just do a little walking or stretching. 

*Please talk to your midwife or healthcare professional about what sort of exercise you want to try. 

If you are having a difficult time with finding the time and energy for this…. it’s okay. 

Remember, “It goes by so fast!”

Surviving sleep deprivation by caffeinating.

woman holding a cup of coffee in a pink cardigan.

This one may look different for everyone, but there’s a reason moms are stereotypically always drinking coffee.

I learned the hard way, however, that some babies are sensitive to the breast milk if mama has had coffee.

Obviously, choosing to caffeinate or not is a personal preference… but I am on team coffee!

Just keep an eye on the little one (if you’re breastfeeding) to see if the caffeine causes other sleep problems. That’s the last thing we need!

Surviving sleep deprivation by nourishment.

woman eating salad in white shirt.

I know we talked about keeping meals simple. But simple can still be healthy! Lots of fresh snacks and good quality protein will make a huge difference in your overall health.

I would also recommend taking some good vitamins. This, too, is such a personal preference here.

But my one supplement I would recommend and have noticed a huge difference with my most recent pregnancy/postpartum experience is desiccated beef liver pills. I am not sponsored or affiliated in any way, I just truly believe they work. My energy levels have been way better with this recent postpartum experience. 

Encouragement for the duration.

Never completing a full sleep cycle can leave you feeling very depleted. But as long as we keep in mind… “It goes by so fast!”, we can handle it all with much more grace and even a little humor. 

So, as we work to get our little ones into a decent sleep routine and pray for more rem sleep, let’s just try our best to be thankful for every season of parenthood. This is easier said than done, but remember… “It goes by so fast!”

Hi, I’m Stephanie! I’m a Christian wife, mom of 4, homeschooler, and a technically trained chef. I love creating a simple, beautiful life with our sweet family.

I’m so glad you’re here!

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