Sleep Deprivation

by admin on November 24, 2009

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep Deprivation
By Lisa Cole

My legs get heavier with every step I take. My eyes grate around in their sockets and one eye has a regular nervous twitch. I am a husk, a dried out shell and everything aches. All I want is sleep. Friends call to ask me out; I’d rather sleep. I am argumentative, grumpy, irrational and can’t concentrate. Sleep deprivation is affecting my relationships and my parenting skills; I don’t give a moo for Old McDonald right now. After a run of sleeping for 4 to 5 hours at a stretch, my son got a fever and last night was screaming hell. I slept in half hour chunks, woken abruptly by an inconsolable boy who yelled for what seemed like hours. I got angry and had to leave the room before I shouted at him to ‘go to sleep, please just go to sleep.’ I don’t normally shout at him and I feel terrible now because it is not his fault.

In a coffee shop, having a hard time choosing a drink, I feel I have to justify my scattiness. ‘He was up all night’ I explain. I earn sniggers and giggles and feel as if no one believes what absolute torture it is. Other mums look at me vaguely, their child has always slept through, no bother at all. I tell myself that their child is extremely dull, unlike mine who has never slept that well. I tell myself that it’s because my child is so active and so bright but in truth I know that it’s just the luck of the draw, some kids sleep, some don’t. After a couple of nights of erratic broken sleep, insomnia sets in. I get overtired, my mind full of must do’s and my body restless. I can’t get to sleep in case I get woken up. He could sleep for 10 minutes or 4 hours, there is no way of telling. And anyway, I am a mother and surely I should be on duty 24 hours a day? No I shouldn’t! I need to look after myself so I can look after my child.

Here is a list of things that help me cope with lack of sleep:

  • If I let him sleep on me I can’t rush round and do dishes/paint hallway/clean the bath/achieve world domination. Even if I don’t sleep when he is at least I am resting.
  • I learnt that babies cry in their sleep sometimes and often go back to sleep again quickly, on their own. He doesn’t want to be cuddled at ever moan he makes.
  • I don’t beat myself up about how little I manage to do, instead I praise myself for existing on so little sleep.
  • Prioritise sleep. When you get a chance, nap!
  • Get someone to look after the baby for a set time. You are more likely to rest if you know how much time you have. If they can take the baby out for a walk you will not be listening out for it all the time.
  • If you get time to yourself, make sure you rest, have a long bath, read a book or watch some mindless TV. Do not do housework!
  • Lavender is supposed to help you relax,
  • Try to avoid coffee because it will only give you a short boost and may stop you from sleeping later in the day.
  • Cut down on daily tasks. Not everything needs to be ironed, older kids and some men can be taught to tidy up and dirty dishes don’t matter.

copyright Lisa Cole 2005,

The Mothers Milk Marketing Board at sells slogan t-shirts that promote breastfeeding and gentle parenting for babies, toddlers and mums.

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