This morning, you woke up tired. You might have pulled an all-nighter to feed and nurse your little one, and in the next few hours, you’ll do it all over again. Then, add in the day job and the never-ending household chores to the equation.
Being tired and not getting ample sleep have become “normal” for motherhood. As soon as your baby is born, you bid goodbye to that straight eight-hours of sleep you have always gotten used to. You’re up and awake, but your senses and functions are down and collapsing. Well, this may be the reason why you unconsciously put your keys inside the refrigerator or walk into the kitchen and suddenly find yourself asking, “why am I here again?”. These instances may sound funny, and you may joke about it. But sleep deprivation can harm your whole being and induce consequences to your health. We hear you–being a mother is the reason why you are not getting enough sleep. However, do we merely stop there and accept that it’s the norm for a parent? Well, we believe that nothing is impossible! In this article, we will examine the signs and effects of sleep deprivation and share with you the tips you can do to get that rest you have always wanted!
A family member may have told you that you look tired or, when you look at the mirror, you thought you had an eyeliner smudge until you realize that the dark circles under your eyes are from the lack of sleep. You’re frequently tired with all the work you did for the day. You slept, but then you wake up feeling tired already. This is because your body is responding to lack of sleep. You may be confused or unsure of the signs. So, take this quick assessment to evaluate yourself:
- I get blurry vision and eye twitches from time to time
- I am often hungry and rely on caffeine too much
- I am easily agitated than I used to be (even the smallest thing troubles me now)
- I feel so tired most of the day
- I have noticed that I’m having a hard time comprehending new information
- I misplace and forget things. I used to have a good memory, but now I am struggling to remember where I put my things
- I find it hard to fall asleep every night
- I get up and down episodes and pick fights with my husband
- I feel that my body is weak and that I can easily catch the flu
- I feel drowsy when I am driving
If you’ve experienced most of it, then you are sleep deprived.
With all the things you need to accomplish, we know you feel like you can’t stop. But you need to pause and rest, mommy! Sleep is an essential factor in keeping your intellect functioning properly. If you lack sleep, your brain is worn out, and you will not be able to tick all of your “to-do” list for the day. For moms, this makes your daily routine challenging. Lack of sleep affects not only your body but also the way you think, cope, and act. It will be hard for you to perform your motherly duties–from nursing a crying newborn, to trying to put a smile on your grumpy child’s face, to driving your car to do errands. If you are exhausted then you are slow and sluggish, which intensifies your risk for an accident. Also, there are negative impacts on your emotional and mental state. Being easily rattled and having mood swings can compromise your choices and judgments. You might find yourself yelling at your toddler for running around or arguing more with your husband over a minor issue. The simple decision-making has now turned into a puzzle you cannot solve because you are sleep deprived. Moreover, if neglected, this can lead to severe consequences such as depression, hallucinations, and, worse, suicidal thoughts. You wouldn’t want that, wouldn’t you?
The most effective way to beat sleep deprivation is to get sufficient hours of sleep. As a mom, you might think that this is unlikely. You may also be convinced that your body is managing well despite being drained and fatigued as no “major” slip has happened yet. Yes, many mothers underestimate the signs and effects of sleep loss, as it has not hit them hard yet. But, once you accidentally cut yourself while preparing vegetables or you got close to hazard because you took off in your car feeling exhausted, then maybe you will take it seriously. You need to realize that you need to rest and make sleep a priority. We know it’s easier said than done, especially if you have to look after a family 24/7. Thus, we have put together some creative pointers specifically for parents to help you get that good night’s sleep.
We cannot emphasize this enough. But asking for support helps you get through motherhood. It’s not bad, nor does it make you less of a parent. Being a mother is hard work, and it takes a village to raise a baby. So, align and discuss midnight feedings with your husband and take turns in doing night shifts. You can also invite your family over and give them a chance to look after the baby while you and your husband catch up on sleep. If you’re a breastfeeding mom, prepare and pump beforehand so you have enough on standby and can get that continuous sleep!
The reason why you are having a hard time sleeping at night is because of your irregular sleeping times. Some days you stay up late, while sometimes you do an all-nighter, and this ruins your rhythm. Start by making a realistic schedule based on your situation and try to stick to it. It will help you kick start a good sleeping habit!
Making wise food choices, exercising regularly, and clearing your mind will help you relax and achieve that pillow time! Do a mental health check by removing all that stress and letting go of the guilt you feel when you squeeze in a bit of “me-time”. Get a hold of that mat and do a quick yoga or meditation at home. Prioritizing healthy eating and active lifestyle will produce energy in the daytime, release happy hormones, and stimulate better sleep at night.
Sleep when the baby is sleeping – we know you have heard this a lot of times. But if you are a sleep-deprived mom, we will keep on repeating this for you. We recommend you put down the dishes, let go of the laundry, or stay away from your laptop for a while and squeeze in that quick nap. Work and household chores can wait. Remember that sleep is a priority. Take advantage of the quiet time to close your eyes, and you will see the difference!
Yes, and this is not just for you but for the baby as well. Make sure the room is in proper temperature, the lights are dimmed, and the environment is quiet. Clean all the unnecessary clutter in the room and ensure the bed is clean and comfortable; it should be in a calm and safe setting. For parents, consider putting aromatherapy to help you relax and soothe your mind. Setting up a relaxing sleeping environment will improve the quality of sleep for you and your baby.
Now that you have discovered the signs of being sleep deprived, be kind to yourself and do not ignore them. Oddly enough, taking care of yourself is also a way of taking care of your child, because by ensuring you’re 100% alert and cheerful is also a way of keeping them safe and happy. If you’re ever in doubt and have consumed all these interventions, then consulting your doctor might be necessary.
Sleep tight now, mommy!
- Galit Solomon, How To Survive Sleep Deprivation, May 2016
- Kate Dupuis, What Sleep Deprivation Does To Your Body and Your Brain, March 2019
- R. Morgan Griffin, Moms and Sleep Deprivation, March 2010
- Sarah Garone, We Asked Sleep Consultants How To Survive The Newborn Days, September 2019