Adventures In Sleeplessness... And How To Cope When You Don't Get The Sleep You Need

01/03/2017 15:02

Sleep is something that as mums, we learn to do without.

And now research from the Georgia Southern University in the United States suggests that mums get waaaay less sleep than their partners when they become a parent. Hmmm, that's not really a great surprise.

The report found that dads' sleep patterns were not affected by fatherhood, no matter how many children they had.

If you have another child, the chances of mums having a sleepless night increased by 50%, according to the Georgia Southern University report.

In our house, I used to do the multitude of night feeds when little one was suctioned to my breast, and I got used to the twilight existence of sleep deprivation.

We married when munchkin was about five months old, and I think I walked down the aisle surviving on about three hours sleep. I felt exhausted and looked rubbish, but felt compelled to glide through the day smiling. I wouldn't recommend it.

And on our honeymoon, baby Ben decided it was a good time to insist on sleeping in our bed... we succumbed because we were in a camper-van in the middle of the desert, but it perhaps wasn't the most romantic honeymoon encounter. And for the next few months he continued to co-sleep in our bed until exhaustion and delirium sent me dialing for a sleep trainer.

Our lovely sleep trainer came for a consultation, and then returned several nights later for a two-night sojourn. She wasn't cheap, but I can promise it was worth the investment. She looked at our routines, and mealtimes, and tweaked the systems, and after two weeks, we had little one sleeping from 7pm to 5am. If you are struggling with your baby's sleep, this is really worth considering.

I'm typing this at 2am, and munchkin is awake and feeling poorly. My broken sleep is a rare occurrence these days, and the significance of blogging about sleeplessness isn't lost on me...

But in baby's early days, you may find that you are having a broken sleep for more than five nights on the trot. So what do you do you if you're sleep deprived and shattered?

Exhaustion is a little like having a hangover. And I used to find a good way to handle it is to pretend that you're fine. And if you act as though everything's normal, then people will respond as though you're not a walking-zombie - even if you can barely remember your name.

Make-up also helps perpetuate that myth. I would always pull out a red lipstick for my most exhausted days. Then people notice the red lips and not how big my eye bags are.

When the alarm goes off after a disturbed night's sleep, try not to hit snooze. It doesn't help your sleep, and in fact makes you feel more groggy. Instead get out of bed and drink a large glass of water, and try to drink regularly throughout the day, it's important to stay hydrated. If you can, replace caffeine with herbal teas or lemon and hot water.

Leaping about to an online exercise session will get the blood pumping, and this will help bring oxygen to the brain. This is vital to help with your concentration levels throughout the day when they start to dip.

Next see if your partner can mind the little one, and jump in the shower for an invigorating scrub and wash. Treat yourself to a body scrub and use a mitt to scrub up the skin, and help boost your circulation.

I used to find that baby yoga helped me in the early days of little one. The meditation and yoga rejuvenated me, and it enabled me to keep going for the rest of the day without completely loosing the plot.

And other days I would go for a big walk and try and get as much air into my lungs as possible, to help pump oxygen round the body.

Later in the day when you think you'll fade, do some stretching at home to boost your oxygen levels and keep you going.

If you're back at work, see if you can open the window to keep up your concentration levels. And a quick power nap for 20 minutes can refresh you immensely on your lunch break and boost your concentration levels.

It's very tempting when you're shattered to just get a takeaway, but if you do an online delivery, and cook something simple like an omelet or stir-fry, it will help your overall wellbeing.

Most importantly, go easy on yourself. Sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture, and it can affect your concentration, your health and your relationship.

TOP TIPS TO SURVIVE SLEEP EXHAUSTION:

• Get out of bed when the alarm goes off and don't hit snooze
• Do some jumping around or exercise
• Jump in the shower, and scrub up to boost your circulation
• Do some gentle stretches to keep you going when you start to fade
• Open the window to maintain your optimum concentration levels
• Eat good food that nourishes your body and your soul

Night night, sweet dreams xx

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