Sleep deprivation occurs when an individual gets less sleep than they need to feel awake and alert. People vary in how little sleep is needed to be considered sleep-deprived. Some people such as older adults seem to be more resistant to the effects of sleep deprivation, while others, especially children and young adults, are more vulnerable.
“Sleep deprivation comes with the territory of being a parent”…
“You’re a parent – you’re bound to be tired” …
“Your kid was up all night? That sucks but welcome to parenting!” …
“You better get used to it, parenting is all about sacrifice!”…
The all too common cliché’s about parents being tired…
I suppose the worst thing is, none of them are actually true.
Chances are, if you are reading this, then you are an exhausted parent. Whether it’s with a child refusing to sleep in the day so you are stuck in a constant sense of disorganization with no time to gather your thoughts - or maybe it’s from bedtime battles with a child who won’t play ball during the night, which then impacts your ability to get any kind of sleep quality. The knock-on effects for us adults can be pretty scary.
50 years ago, it was the role of a mother to be at home 24/7 with the children, to run the house, cook, clean and be a mother. In this modern day, it’s often the case that many women have worked hard to gain high quality education, careers and professions. It’s the most bizarre experience taking leave from your employment, abandoning your responsibilities and commitment to bring a child into the world before returning to those commitments in the very near future. It’s a lot of pressure for families! There are financial pressures and impacts on loss of earnings, maternity pay often barely covers the newly required nappy supply !
Then comes the “mum guilt” when little one has to attend nursery in order for you to attend work, which is likely to cost a good chunk of your hard-earned salary, as you turn up for your work exhausted and lacking enthusiasm!
If this sounds familiar, don’t worry… you are not alone !
During my awful run in with sleep deprivation, an abundance of negative emotions and feelings flooded my head. I’m sure other tired parents will be able to relate exactly to the effects lack of sleep can have.
To name but a few…
Having little/No Patience
Having no motivation/energy
Danger – having an accident whilst driving/misjudging situations
Employment & Careers – making mistakes and requiring time off
Relationships with Family & Friends – Constant arguing, bad atmosphere
Feeling emotional and upset
Health deterioration – lack of sleep will have physical effects to – feeling run down and exhausted
Family life will undoubtedly become compromised
Low mood & irrational thinking – unable to process thoughts clearly
I remember telling my husband that I wasn’t “in my right mind” when we were in the thick of lack of sleep with the twins. I also remember considering that it could be a good idea to deliberately run my car off the road, just to get a break from it all, even if that came at the cost of a hospital stay. This sounds quite amusing as I type it out and now realise the stupidity of that thought, but it just proves how serious the effects can be.
It’s really not a laughing matter!
There is no questioning the importance of restorative sleep, and a certain amount of attention is necessary to both manage and prevent sleep deprivation.
Self-care has to be one of the hottest topics right now – the running theme of “look after yourself” is a major consideration.
I’m sure that you don’t need me to tell you what the magic cure is for sleep deprivation…. You guessed it… SLEEP!
The only way you will be able to guarantee sleep for your children, and for yourselves as parents, is by being fully informed about every stage of sleep requirements, how to manage your children’s sleep long term, and how to tackle all of the sleep challenges you will face along the way. Find yourself a reliable sleep specialist who can keep you on the straight and narrow. Not only for now... but for the foreseeable future!
I will be forever grateful to our sleep consultant, who, turned our lives around and helped us to (still – 1.5 years on) be able to function as a happy, well slept family.
If you are an exhausted parent, it’s time to realise that sleep is a priority, not only for your children, but also for you! In order to have fulfilled days, at work, at home, enjoying every minute of family life.
Fairy Sleep Mother