The experts, family, and well-meaning strangers often tell soon-to-be parents to “sleep while you can.” What they forget is that it is impossible to sleep while you can when you are hugely pregnant, or better (worse?), when you are hugely pregnant and chasing a toddler or three. Once baby arrives, regardless if it is your first or fifth, sleep evades you, yet totally consumes you without your consent. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture.
Dr. Bulkeley said that
“forcibly depriving a person of sleep is a profound assault on the entire biological system at the foundation of that person’s mind and body. The first signs of sleep deprivation are unpleasant feelings of fatigue, irritability, and difficulties concentrating. Then come problems with reading and speaking clearly, poor judgment, lower body temperature, and a considerable increase in appetite. If the deprivation continues, the worsening effects include disorientation, visual misperceptions, apathy, severe lethargy, and social withdrawal.”
With that being said, sleep while you can. Sleep when your babies sleep. Have someone play with baby so you can close your eyes. Make a nest on the floor with safe objects around and sleep while baby plays with soft toys or books. The more and more we push ourselves to stay awake to get things done, the worse off we will be. I know sometimes I have no choice but to be awake after a looooonng night of the toddler nursing for literal hours on end.
You know you’re a sleep deprived parent when…
- you are sitting up to nurse your brand new baby in the middle of the night. You suddenly startle awake because of someone snoring. Then you realize that someone was you. Sleeping. Sitting up. (That happened.)
- you fall asleep at the dinner table.
- you are trying to get some work done at home and fall out of your chair.
- you’re partner grumbles at you because he realized he had been talking to a sleeping person for the past 5 minutes.
- everything is ridiculously hysterical. And then it’s not.
- when you’re cranky all the time.
- when you can’t remember simple things, like why you walked into the kitchen, or why you are trying to put an ice cube in the toaster.
- when you have only one response to anyone requesting anything from you.
We hope you get some sleep, mamas and daddies! Raising humans is hard enough without adding in sleep exhaustion. What are some things you have done or said in a sleep deprived state?