alt Wailing, cranky, ready to explode at the slightest provocation—your newborn or you before your first dose of coffee? Maybe the little one kept you up all night and you’re struggling to get through the morning, or, if you’re anything like us at Mimo, coffee is simply a critical part of daily life. But how do you deal with those coffee cravings and still get the quality sleep you need to care for a little (lovable) monster full of cravings of her own?

Most coffee-drinkers, and procrastinators, can attest to the power of late-night coffee in pulling an all-nighter. But you may be surprised by the powerful lingering effects of an afternoon cup of joe. Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital and Wayne State College of Medicine found that a “moderate dose” of caffeine even six hours before bedtime can cause significant disturbances in the quality of your sleep. And coffee aficionados aren’t exactly known for enjoying in moderation. Parents can use all the quality sleep they can get, so it’s a good idea to enjoy your big morning coffee, but then cut off consumption post-lunch.

The real struggle for new parents lies in how caffeine cravings play into the vicious cycle of sleep deprivation. When your newborn is keeping you awake at night, you need more coffee to get through the next day, which can prevent you from getting good rest, which can then lead to even more coffee the next day. Before you know it, you’ve gone from a “quick-pick-me-up-cup-of-joe” coffee routine to an “if-I-don’t-get-this-Big-Gulp-of-rocket-fuel-heads-will-roll” coffee problem.

Energy-Boosting Alternatives:

  • Kicking the coffee habit is a daunting task (I mean, we can stop any time we want...we just don’t want to). Besides, a moderate amount of coffee is actually beneficial to overall health. But trying these other options for boosting energy can help keep coffee consumption to a healthy level

  • Tea. Sure, this one’s a bit obvious, but often it’s the ritual of coffee-making that provides a psychological energy boost. In the same way that your little one equates her crib and story-time with sleeping, your brain equates a warm beverage in a mug with a quick energy boost. The varying ranges of caffeine content in tea lets you tweak (sorry, bad pun) your consumption to your energy needs.

  • Iron-rich foods. Rather than relying on a stimulant like caffeine, why not get to the source of your energy needs? Iron boosts your ability to send oxygen throughout the body, and more oxygen to the brain means more focus. Whether you put that added focus toward work or to a spirited game of peekaboo is up to you. Good sources of iron include red meat, fish, spinach, beans, and lentils. For more, check out http://www.webmd.com/diet/iron-rich-foods.

  • Snack (on healthy foods). It’s not just what you eat that can help boost your energy, but also when and how often you eat. Rather than relying on three large meals, try spacing out your eating throughout the day. By mixing in some of those iron-rich foods in small meals you’ll stay energized and avoid the dreaded post-lunch “food coma.”

  • Laugh. Millions of office workers may not realize it, but procrastinating on Youtube could actually be increasing their alertness. According to neuroscientist Robert Provine, laughter can help boost your heart rate, leading to a surge in energy. And imagine the poetic justice of banishing your baby-induced sleepiness with videos of funny babies.

  • Exercise. It seems counter-intuitive, but a moderate amount of physical activity actually helps boost your energy levels. At work, a simple ten-minute break from the task at hand to get up and move around can help you refocus and re-energize. Working in more structured exercise—even just a few times per week—will also help you sleep sounder, allowing you to get the most out of what little sleep a new parent can expect.

Whatever your strategy for boosting your energy levels, the end-goal remains the same: getting sufficient rest so that you can be effective in all areas of your life. With these strategies in place, keeping coffee intake to a reasonable level should leave you feeling more rested and better able to see to your little one’s needs—everybody wins! And that calls for a celebratory cup of that sweet, sweet java. If you have any recommendations on beans, recipes, routines, or other non-coffee energy tips, we’d love to hear all about them on our Facebook page.

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Reed is new to the Mimo team and comes from a background in education. By all accounts, he was a very well-behaved baby.