Let’s talk sleep deprivation
As we have noticed it’s been hot this week. While the temperatures have soared and made for some sleepy babies in the day no doubt, I can guarantee that it has also resulted in restless nights for anyone with young children. For parents this means one thing: hello sleep deprivation!
In most progressive countries, if you were consistently made to function on only an hour or two sleep each night then it would be considered a form of torture. “I’ve not slept for days” would be a valid reason to call in sick for work. Unless of course you’re a parent. When you’re a parent then sleep deprivation is just part of the job and something you have to get on with. That doesn’t make it easy though.
It’s not just the night though, sleep deprivation affects everything. Your mood, your patience, even what you eat – and here comes the science bit – as sleep has a big link to appitite control. Does feeling tired and run down have you automatically reaching for the sweet treats? Well, you’re not alone as there’s a reason for that as sleep plays a big part in regulating your metabolism. When you are sleep deprived, the impact on the hormones in your body means that you will see an increase in the hormone which increases your appitite (ghrelin) and a decrease in the hormone which suppresses it (leptin). So you see……we NEED those biscuits when we’re tired and sleep deprived, science says so!
Unfortunately though we need more than biscuits to see us through sleep deprivation. As much as I often search for it there, the answer is not at the bottom of a biscuit barrel. So here it is. My top tips for surviving sleep deprivation:
IN THE NIGHT:
- If you’re still feeding in the night then find somewhere to feed that isn’t too comfortable – falling asleep with a baby in your arms is dangerous no matter the age so you need a place where the risk is minimised. Think a chair with no head or neck support so if you’re drifting, a lolling head will wake you up.
- Consider co-sleeping – if you can do so safely then this has the optimum chance of sleep. The NCT guidelines are a good source of information.
- Use your phone – embrace the time and read a book, watch a film or use mummy groups on social media for some middle of the night company.
- Stay hydrated – keep a drink and some (healthy!!) snacks handy wherever you feed. As we’ve discussed, you will be more hungry if you are tired.
- Look at your baby – it’s so easy to lose your cool when you’re exhausted, so gaze into that little face to remind yourself why you’re doing it.
- Know it’s only temporary – they’re tiny for such a short space of time, this is just a phase and it will end and I can guarantee you’ll miss the smell and squishiness of baby snuggles once they’re gone.
THE NEXT DAY:
- Coffee – lots of coffee and if you’re breastfeeding then even decaffeinated will help a little.
- Sleep when they sleep – said a lot but true. Unfortunately only true if you don’t have older kids. If you do, this goes out the window! Instead use a cold flannel to revive tired eyes and there is no shame in escaping to the loo from time to time to get a little hiatus!
- Get out of the house – there’s a lot to be said for sheer momentum to keep you going.
- Take a shower – the world always feels a little better when you’re clean.
- Use the people around you – if you can use friends, family etc to keep an eye on the baby and / or older kids as even a quick hour power nap can make a difference.
- Share the load – make sure you’re sharing the night time wake up’s with your partner if you can. If not make him / her take the evening shift so you can get an early night.
- Preparation for an early night – are there any jobs you usually do once the kids are in bed you can do in the day or at the weekend so you can get your head down as soon as possible come bedtime?
- Coffee – did I say that already? It’s worth repeating. Lots of coffee. And chocolate!
This is what works for me, do you have any hints or tips to add?