I feel like I was sleep deprived way longer than everyone else I knew with a newborn. Maybe everyone feels that way, but I sensed that I was having sleepless nights and days to an extreme.

That brings me to this list I’ve developed of how I managed to get a little bit of sleep when I was nursing 24/7 and had a newborn that wouldn’t sleep. I barely survived — seriously — but when I got sleep, these are the ways I managed to do it.

What I did to get sleep

I barely got sleep during the first 4-6 weeks of having a newborn because of nursing around the clock. I was losing my mind. I was exhausted, anxious and incredibly frustrated. I got sleep in the following ways.

Pull down the shades (darken the room)

I have a lot of trouble sleeping if the room is light. I’m a light sleeper, and the best way for me to get shut-eye is to be in a dark room.

I had our baby during winter months, so it was fortunate that the sky started getting dark around 4pm, and by 5pm it was dark out. This helped me get into some sleep, and then be up later again to feed the baby.

Another lucky thing was that the sun didn’t rise until 7:30, so mornings felt longer and darker.

Use an eye mask

I got addicted to sleeping with an eye mask when Dan and I lived in an apartment in Brooklyn that faced East (sunrise). It was nice to wake up to a naturally lit room, but also really hard to sleep without an eye mask.

I just got a new Quince eye mask that is excellent at blocking out the light, and I recommend getting it in Black if you can. It also helped me out as an essential in my hospital bag.

Use ear plugs

To block out other noise in the house and to help me relax, I used ear plugs. I’ve gotten used to ear plugs as a way to eliminate unwanted sounds, and they’ve turned into somewhat of a comfort for me when I’m trying to relax. I used these every time I took a nap when our baby was a newborn.

Use a sound machine or fan

Sound machines and fans have helped me get comfortable for sleeping as well. While I can’t nap effectively every time based on these alone, I recommend picking up a small sound machine or even using the white noise app on your phone.

Tell everyone you’re going to sleep

I didn’t care who was visiting — my in-laws, parents, visitors from out of town — if I was exhausted and wanted to nap, I told everyone that was what I was going to do, and I tried to sleep in my bed. I would basically declare that I was going to try to nap, while they all played with the newborn and maybe offered her a bottle. I said I’d be back later, if I was able to take a nap at that time.

Sleep when the baby sleeps

I did this, but I don’t like this common saying at all. How am I supposed to sleep when the baby sleeps if I have things to do?

This is where asking your partner to support you as a breastfeeding mom comes in. Ask your partner to do all the things you were going to do, so that you can sleep a little bit.

Sleep far away from the baby

If you’ve read my article on Where should my newborn sleep for the first few months, you may know that I’m a terribly light sleeper.

Therefore, I always napped and slept in a different room when the baby was sleeping, except for when it was my “overnight shift.”

Use an infrared light

If the other ways I got sleep don’t do it for you, try getting an infrared light product to help relax. I have the Helight, and I turn it on a few minutes before bedtime or naptime, as I shut the lights in the room. The Helight emits low-frequency light that tells your body it’s time to get into rest mode. It works for some people, so it’s just a suggestion.

What I did not do

Here are a few things that are kind of miscellaneous that are either no-go’s for me, or recommended by other parents who happen to be heavy sleepers.

Nap while my baby was napping on me

I have never been able to relax enough to nap while my baby has been napping on me. This just isn’t something I’m built to do. I’d see cute photos and videos of parents napping while their newborns napped on their chests, or in a baby carrier, and this was never the parent I was.

Nap while my baby was nursing

Some parents have quoted to me that they are able to sleep while their newborns are nursing. This is FAR from anything I was ever able to do.

Sleep in the same room as my baby

I outlined in my guide about where a newborn should sleep that I am too light of a sleeper to sleep next to my baby while they’re in a bassinet. I also refused to nap when the baby was in the same room. Newborns are simply too noisy with all their squeaks and grunts.

Drink coffee or caffeinated drinks

I laid off caffeine starting early in my pregnancy and until around 3 months postpartum. The reason is because I was sleeping (well, trying to sleep) ALL the time until about 12 weeks because I was so sleep-deprived.

I kept saying that there was no daytime and nighttime for me, because the baby would not really sleep during the day.

Limit screen time

This might be a thing that’s impossible to do. A lot of sources recommend cutting screen time an hour before you’re about to go to bed, but this was not possible for me. What was I supposed to do while nursing — not use my phone?

I was using my phone all the time, around the clock, especially in the middle of the night when the baby was nursing and I was up by myself in the dark. I was not able to limit my screen time, so I didn’t bother recommending this method to anyone trying to sleep as a new parent in the newborn days.

Will sleep as a new parent get better?

It will get easier. I can almost promise this. I remember texting friends saying, “No one told me about the lack of sleep I’d be experiencing as a new parent with a newborn.” I felt like I’d been sold a lie.

A few months down the line, the newborn days were hazy and felt like the past. I was still going to bed super early, around 8:30 and 9pm, until our daughter was about 7 months old, because she sometimes would wake up for the day at 5:45 am and 6.

But the days when I’d need excessive daytime napping and have excessive nighttime wake-ups were history. So, I hope you can think of this and consider that everything is a phase. Having a newborn is one of the HARDEST things I have ever done, and I think you will do great.

Just try to get some sleep. :-)