Don’t expect to get lots of sleep with newborn twins in your house.
As you know, sleep deprivation is brutal and will be your reality for several months with newborn twins.
You have to change your expectations and routine to try and maximize the sleep you can get.
Here are some things you can do to improve your sleep:
Forget Normal Schedules
Traditionally you sleep at night and are awake during the day. Throw all “normal” expectations out the window when caring for newborn twins. There is nothing wrong with going to bed right after dinner at 6:30pm. Any time can be sleep time, so don’t say “I can’t go to sleep, it’s only 7:00.”
Yes, you can go to sleep whenever you need!
Sleep in Shifts
Take turns sleeping in shifts with your wife. For example, you can take the midnight to 4am shift and then swap from 4am to 8am. Your twins will have a pattern to their waking and eating. Plan your shifts around those predictable feedings.
During nighttime feedings, both you and your wife can get up to feed the babies. (This works best when bottle feeding.) When you work as a team, you can feed two babies in the time it takes to feed one. Everyone then gets back to sleep faster.
The disadvantage of this method is that no one sleeps for a longer period than the twin babies sleep. You’ll get more interruptions during the night.
The best way to get a full night’s sleep is to not have to wake up to care for the babies. Who will take care of the babies then? I don’t recommend pushing all night time feeding responsibilities to your wife just so you can sleep. Instead, invite family or friends to come and help with the twins during the night shift.
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
With our newborn twins, we had someone staying with us for the first several months. With three adults in the house, we could rotate two people on child care every night. The third person could then sleep through the night. Knowing that I could sleep the whole night every third night was an awesome relief!
Sleep When You Can
If you aren’t caring for the twins, you can take a nap. You have my permission. It can be any time of day (just not while you are driving). After the babies are fed and changed, seriously think about your next activity. Is it more important than some sleep? Choose wisely.
Getting adequate sleep as a parent of newborn twins is a huge challenge. You need sleep to function properly both at home and at work. Expect and plan for small stretches of sleep instead of a solid night’s worth of rest.
Take heart that the sleep interruption is only temporary. The good news is that when you awake in the middle of the night, the routine is pretty straight forward: feed baby, burp baby, change baby, go back to bed. You don’t have to think too much and that definitely helps in your sleepy stupor.
Picture by Rob Sharp