Sleep Deprivation – a reality for many

Sleep deprivation, tiredness, exhaustion, too few hours in the day.  Call it what you will, many, indeed probably most if not every mother will have experienced this, at the very least in the first 6 weeks of baby’s wonderful life.

Some mothers are lucky and baby starts to establish longer sleeping hours within a few weeks, others must wait a few months, and then there are the few who have to wait years.  And I mean years.

Many of my friends don’t really believe me when I say that I can honestly count on two hands the numbers of nights in the last 2 years when Sunflower has slept for 9+ hours in a row, and because I don’t go to sleep 5 minutes after she does (I have done on occasion!), then the longest I have slept has been 6 hours, once, and that was wonderful!

The reality of it, however, is that sleep deprivation, especially over prolonged periods really impacts how we function, not just concentration and memory, but it affects our ability to think rationally, logically, to manage and balance our emotions. Personally, I have struggled to perform at work, and this has been noticed by the people I work with.  Before Sunflower, I was really “on the ball”, quick and accurate in the deductions I would make and made good decisions.  Now, I sometimes feel like I cannot make a decision at all! More on decision fatigue in another post at some stage.

So what can we really do about it? I know that I push on, I have to.  I must look after Sunflower, I want to look after my husband who is away from home at least 11 hours every day.  I am advised by “professionals” that it would be ok to leave the housework for a few days….really?  I actually find such advice patronising.  If I am in a tidy space, physically, then my mind can be much more at ease, and when I’m doing something, say cooking, then knowing the kitchen is a tidy space makes it a much more enjoyable and relaxing task than if the kitchen were a total mess with about 2 hours worth of cleaning to do.

With a tidy home, my brain can rest.  Over the last few weeks, Sunflower has been up again up to 5 times every night, first of all it was tonsillitis, then it was teething, and now it has been a tummy bug, with only brief interludes between each, meaning that it has been impossible to establish a proper sleeping routine.

And so I push on, I keep the house tidy, I enjoy my days, and form this week, I am only working for my “employers” for 1/2 day a week until Christmas, meaning I can spend my days when Sunflower is with the childminder to get the house sorted and find some “me” time – sewing, crafting, planning the next weeks food menu and my evenings are free to sleep, watch telly and relax….until I get that much needed rest!

I’m interested to hear other people’s experiences!

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