One favorite line people like to feed new moms is that they better “sleep while they can.” While it’s not always fully verbalized, the obvious implication here is that once you become pregnant, you’re pretty much doomed to be tired forever. But is that really true? Is mom really always tired?
It’s true that the newborn stage can be exhausting. And it’s true that there will be times when you will be tired. Sleep regressions will pop up, and there will be times when you just don’t sleep well.
However, despite these periods of constant exhaustion, there is hope. Moms are not doomed to be tired forever. In fact, there are a lot of simple things you can do to get out of that rut of exhaustion.
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Mom is tired…what’s new?
Recently I got into another rut of feeling constantly tired(and no, I’m not preggo! Haha). It’s not the first time, and it likely won’t be the last. Sometimes I catch myself thinking about how tired I feel, and it’s easy to think “what’s new.” Because some times, it feels like it’s always been this way, even though my toddler is now 2.5 years old.
But you want to know the truth? It hasn’t always been this way. Yes, I was exhausted when Elijah was a newborn. And then he learned to sleep through the night and I felt freakin’ awesome—at least in the sleep department.
And then the sleep regressions came, and again I was tired all the time. Then one day he was sleeping well again, and everything was once again right in the world.
Bottom line: feeling tired isn’t a constant thing, even though it sometimes feels that way. It comes and goes in phases, much like pretty much everything else in the world.
What most moms don’t realize is that there are actually a lot of relatively simple things that you can do to feel significantly more energized and refreshed.
Why are moms so tired all the time?
Before we jump into some practical steps to help you kick the exhaustion, it’s important to understand some common causes of tiredness in motherhood. While there are lots of potential reasons you may personally be tired, understanding common reasons can help you narrow it down.
The newborn stage is no joke. Even if you’ve had other babies, the newborn stage still hits you hard. It’s pretty reasonable to expect to be tired during the newborn stage.
Newborns need to eat frequently and have a lot of needs (although sometimes we do over complicate those needs). Add their frequent wake ups to the mix and you’ve got one tired mom.
Best advice for this stage? Give yourself grace. It’s okay to let some things go in order to focus on your newborn and on healing yourself.
Survival mode frequently accompanies the newborn stage. However, you can also be in survival mode during other stages of motherhood as well.
During survival mode, your primary concern is just that: survival. Why we end up in survival mode can vary for so many reasons. Whatever the reason, survival mode can leave you feeling exhausted in so many different ways. Give yourself grace, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Sometimes the reason we’re tired is because of a health or nutritional cause. Sickness or poor nutrition can certainly cause us to feel tired and sluggish.
When I was pregnant with Elijah, I hit a point where I started feeling super tired all the time, even though I was well into my second trimester. Turns out I had become anemic. A simple iron supplement had me feeling way better the same day I started taking it.
Although moms stress about their kid’s nutritional needs, we often forget to take care of our own as well. If you’re struggling to come up with healthy, nutritious meals and snacks to keep you going, I recommend checking out Mommy Labor Nurse’s Pregnancy Cookbook and Breastfeeding Cookbook.
The Pregnancy Cookbook is tailored to fit your needs while pregnant, and the Breastfeeding Cookbook is tailored for breastfeeding and helping your milk supply. However, both can be used even if you aren’t pregnant or breastfeeding and still help support your health needs as a mom.
Not Enough Hours of Sleep
Sometimes our exhaustion comes from simply not getting enough hours of sleep. Trouble sleeping is a common problem during pregnancy. Once our babies are born, the newborn stage tends to have us sleeping in two to four spurts, assuming your baby is a good sleeper.
Even once our little ones start sleeping through the night, moms often find themselves staying up too late. Because, frankly, the evening hours are often the only free time we get to ourselves. Sometimes simply making the effort to go to bed earlier can make a difference in our constant tired state.
Not Enough Quality Sleep
On the other side of the coin, it’s not always the amount of hours we sleep that’s the problem. Rather, sometimes it’s simply the quality of sleep.
At one point, I tried sleeping with an off brand FitBit on to track my sleep patterns. After a week or so of tracking my sleep patterns, I was a bit surprised to find that I wasn’t deep sleeping for more than ten minutes or so at a time.
Even though I was sleeping plenty of hours, the fact that I wasn’t sleeping deeply for a sufficient amount of time was making me feel terrible during the day. Sleeping enough hours in a night won’t help you if you aren’t sleeping well during that time.
Recently, with everything going on in the world (writing this during a pandemic!), I’ve definitely been feeling the mental exhaustion starting to hit. And it’s easy for this to be the cause of tiredness in us.
It’s not really a secret that moms tend to worry about a lot of things. Baby safety, whether we’re doing enough with our toddlers, whether we’re a good mom or not.
If you let yourself stress out enough, the mental exhaustion will begin to show. Sometimes mom is tired simply because she’s letting her concerns get the best of her.
9 Ways for mom to get more sleep and be less tired
Knowing why you’re tired is just one piece of the puzzle. What practical steps can you take as a mom to help you feel less tired?
Ask for help
Do you struggle to ask for help when you need it? Or to recognize when you need it? I’ll admit that I’m not particularly good at this.
I think we sometimes need to be reminded that we don’t have to do it all. It’s not necessary for you to do everything, all the time. Learn to ask for help when you need it.
Go to bed earlier
I struggle with this so much! The evening hours are my “me” time, and I’m a bit of a binge watcher. It’s so easy for me to get into a TV show and keep watching “just one more.” Newsflash, it’s never just one more. #guilty
Try to make it a consistent habit of going to bed at a set time each night. And if you’re like me and struggle to hit the hay early, start by moving back your “bedtime” by 15-30 minutes at a time.
Sleep when the baby (or toddler) sleeps
I’m not a huge fan of this saying for various reasons, but the truth is if you need to take a nap, take it. If you’re consistently tired throughout the day, try catching a nap when you can.
Lately I’ve been napping with my toddler, and I think it’s been helping. Even just a short power nap can give you the boost you need to get through the rest of the day.
Believe it or not, eating healthy, nutritious foods can help you to feel less tired. What you eat affects how your body works and feels, and that includes how tired you feel. Sometimes kicking that tired feeling is as easy as adjusting your eating habits.
If you struggle to come up with healthy but delicious meals and snacks, I highly recommend grabbing a copy of Mommy Labor Nurse’s two ebook cookbooks, The Pregnancy Cookbook and The Breastfeeding Cookbook. Both are filled with great recipes that are beneficial even if you aren’t pregnant or breastfeeding.
While this may sound counterproductive, exercising can actually make you feel less tired. Exercise gets your blood flowing and releases endorphins, not the mention the added benefit of keeping you feeling fit and well.
If you’re like me and struggle to find the time to exercise, you might check out The Balanced Life’s Pilates program. I love that Robin has a daily workout calendar with step by step videos taking your through each workout. Better yet, the workouts are only 10-30 minutes long, which makes it much easier to squeeze it into a mom’s busy day.
Stop letting yourself stress
Want to know a big reason that mom is tired? Stress. While there are tons of joys to motherhood, there’s also a lot of stress and worry that can come with it.
Constant stress and worry can affect your body, making you feel tired. If you’re a mom trying to stop feeling tired, take a close look at yourself and see if there’s things you’re worrying about.
Drink more water
Much like what you eat, what you drink can affect how your body feels as well. Try to stay away from caffeinated drinks and drink more water instead. Water is important for your body to function properly, and not drinking enough of it can affect how rested and energized you feel.
Have a relaxing bedtime routine
If you think amount or quality of sleep you get is why you’re tired, than implementing a good bedtime routine may help as well. A relaxing bedtime routine signals your brain that it’s time to sleep, and helps ease you into a quality night’s sleep.
Be sure to avoid screens during your bedtime routine, since screens can overstimulate your brain and prevent you from sleeping well. Instead, try reading a book or taking a relaxing bath.
Stay away from screens before bed
Even if you don’t have a regular bedtime routine, staying away from screens in the hour before you go to bed can help you get better sleep.
Screens are known to prevent good sleep, which can leave a mom tired the next day. Even though we all enjoy scrolling through Instagram or Facebook in the evening, it’s better for us to limit it to the early evening hours.
What if mom is tired because of a newborn?
Okay, but what if you’re tired because you have a newborn? Don’t worry, even if you’re a tired mom of a newborn, the above tips will all still help. If you’re in the newborn stage, you can also try the following tips as well to help you through this stage.
Let people help you
Can I say that again? Let people help you. If someone offers to help, let them, as long as it is truly helpful. And even if someone doesn’t offer, just ask!
Most people are more than willing to help, but sometimes they just don’t know how. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, and tell people exactly what would help you.
Learn about your baby’s sleep
A big factor in new mom sleep deprivation is how your baby sleeps—not sleeping all night can really make you tired! The sleep adjustment coupled with recovering from birth can certainly take a toll.
One thing you can do is learn more about newborn sleep and what to expect. For this, I recommend Mommy Labor Nurse’s course on newborn sleep. Created in collaboration with an actual baby sleep consultant, the course is perfect for helping any new mom understand her baby’s sleep, as well as learn tips to help your baby sleep better.
Hang in there—it won’t always be like this
If you’re in the newborn stage, hang in there. Postpartum and the newborn phase is an exhausting stage, but it won’t always be like this. You will heal, and you will sleep again. Your baby will learn to sleep for longer and longer stretches, and you will become less and less tired. Hang in there.
How do you combat being tired as a mom?
What about you? Do you have any tricks or tips for combating tiredness and exhaustion as a mom?