During the early days of new parenthood, the only thing we're more obsessed with than our baby is our sleep, and how precious little of it we're getting.
Research suggests parents lose an average of two hours of sleep per night for the first five months and then one hour per night until the age of two, and Jessica Biel says she knows exactly how that feels.
"Sleep deprivation is torture," Biel said during a recent event at her restaurant, Au Fudge. "I have a 3-year-old, and it's pretty common for him to not sleep through the night. The first six months, if you can sleep, sleep."
The early nights
Biel has previously discussed how hard the early days of parenthood were for her and husband Justin Timberlake.
In a book by the couple's nanny, Connie Simpson, Biel revealed how she was "was obsessed with everything organic, toxin-free, natural, and homeopathic for our kid," in the early days. "I was a dictator, making myself and my husband insane," she wrote.
Thankfully, the couple were able to relax as their son Silas got older (although he's still not sleeping through the night, every night). "We're not too crazed anymore," Biel recently told Entertainment Tonight. "We were crazy in the beginning and didn't know what we were doing, and terrified and exhausted."
Thanks to Nanny Connie (to whom Timberlake stressed the importance of sleep) and the methods of Dr. Harvey Karp, the pediatrician who wrote The Happiest Baby on the Block, Biel got through her season of sleep deprivation with Silas.
After a friend gave her a copy of Karp's book, Biel found a lot of success using Karp's "Five S's": swaddling, side, shushing, swinging, and sucking. "I would go through the list of the five Ss, and just check. Tried that. Okay, not that one. Not that one. Oh, that one. In an hour, it's different, or maybe you start to see a pattern," she says.
For some parents, it's the Five Ss. Others may find co-sleeping or the responsive method is their secret weapon for sleep. Whether you follow Biel's (and therefore Karp's) advice or not, don't be afraid to ask for help when you've reached your limit.
It takes a village
According to Biel, modern mamas should look to the past when "aunties, friends, godmothers, and godfathers" took a shift with the baby and lean on their village when they need to.
If you don't have a village of support near you, letting your partner take charge for a night or taking a page out of Timberlake's book and handing the baby to a nanny or babysitter for a few hours while you get some sleep can help.
It's okay to admit that this is hard, and we're glad Biel is doing just that.