A form of torture. That’s how a community nurse described sleep deprivation in our second postnatal class. Causing emotional problems, hallucinations, lack of coordination and delirium and used in the extraction of information from suspected criminals. Holy wow! No wonder many of us are left feeling under par when sleep is impaired by our little joys.
Me? The frozen peas find their way into the pan cupboard, the mayonnaise into the freezer, I get down (emotionally, I don’t mean breaking out some shapes to Sugar Hill Gang), feel like I can’t cope, and sound tipsy as words slur out of my mouth. And feeling alone, as everyone appears to be coping excellently (see our post on social media for more on this). Sound familiar? Even all-nighters studying and subsequent days survived on sugar and caffeine didn’t prepare for this!
So how do we cope? Well, in truth, some days better than others. But here are some things we’ve found that help us:
Eat well. Sugar and caffeine are fine, they can make you feel comfort when everything’s a bit crap (heck, I’m normally found enjoying a slice of double choc cake and a large latte!). But eating better will have a lasting impact. Simply, plenty of water, fruit, vegetables and snacks with long-lasting energy, like these, my favourite (and so easy) peanut butter and muesli cookies (add a bit more cinammon and vanilla essence, yum!). Also, it doesn’t hurt to take a vitamin supplement to bolster your diet.
Look after each other. If your other half is up and has an hour before going to work, he/she can look after the little one while you try to get some shuteye. I find morning rest incredibly restorative, though it took me eight months before asking my other half to help as I felt I should be able to do it all and not “burden” him. As it is, of course it’s not a burden and he loves this time on the occasions I need some rest.
Get out. A good friend of mine gave me this advice early on. No matter how tired you feel, get your shoes on and head out with your little one/s. Whether it’s a walk, trip to the shops or meet with friends, it’ll blow the cobwebs away and help your mood.
Go to bed when your little one settles. Yes, when they’re in bed it feels like it’s the only time you can get everything else done or have a minute to yourself, but sometimes those extra hours before the night wakings can help. M has had chicken pox this week and an adverse reaction to an antihistamine meant she was bouncing off the walls from the time it was administered (6pm) until 3am, cue 1.5 hours’ sleep and by 5am we were back up for the day. I went to bed at 8pm the following day, fell asleep with my head on my kindle, it was heaven!
Get cosy. When you do take time for yourself, use it for you! We’ll cover hygge in another post, but basically get those snuggly socks, blankets, hot chocolate (or something stronger!) and curl up with a magazine or book on the evenings you claim back for yourself.
Use your own sleep props. Jo swears by chamomile tea, and another member of our tribe dug out her old teddy bear to take to bed as a comforter for help getting to sleep between night wakings.
And know, as another close friend reminded me when I caved and wept due to such little sleep, this won’t be forever! The sleep will get better. You will feel human again.
Keep up the good work mummas and daddies.
Lauren, The Mother Side xx