Updated: Dec 15, 2020
We all complain about being tired, exhausted, shattered, it's nothing new and nobody is surprised that parenthood leaves you with little energy come the end of the day. But if you're dealing with broken sleep night after night the accumulation of that results in sleep deprivation that can be chronic with a detrimental effect on our mental and physical health.
So how do you know if you're suffering from sleep deprivation? The clinical diagnosis for it is less than 7 hours a night, that goes on for a while. Yup I hear you, 7 hours straight sleep, can you even remember what that feels like? Most of us expect the broken sleep that comes with newborns but somewhere along the line we adjust, we become used to it and before we know it we're dealing with kids who are still waking up at night meaning mummy and daddy haven't had more than 7 hours sleep in years!
You're much more likely to suffer with mental health issues if you're sleep deprived, it's very common for those who are depressed to report that they are also exhausted. Chronic sleep deprivation is highly linked to postnatal depression. How and why are we accepting this for ourselves? I think it's a combination of lack of support from professionals and pressure from society to cope and be the 'perfect' parent who can do it all.
Other associations with sleep deprivation include lower immune system which doubles your risk of cancer, long term insufficient lack of sleep is a key factor in determining if you will suffer from Alzheimer's disease, it disrupts blood sugar levels making you eat more which obviously leads to weight gain. Not only that, did you know drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving causing hundreds of thousands of road traffic accidents and fatalities each year.
It's not a particularly happy read is it, unfortunately I hear again and again that parents have been putting up with this for years thinking it was 'normal' and there is nothing they can do about it. If lack of sleep doesn't bother you, if you function just fine on 5 hours sleep a night then great but for the average human being that isn't enough and sleep is a biological need, and not just a luxury for those without children.
Parenting is challenging enough without also dealing with our own low mood, impatience from low blood sugar, lack of energy and general bad health. If this is your current life, please don't let it become your future, show your kids that sleep is important, sleep should be something we look forward to not dread. It helps you to recover from your day and start the next day ready to go instead of sluggish and unable to function without coffee.
Is it unrealistic to expect a mum of kids under 5 to go to bed and sleep well night after night because her kids don't wake? I say NO. I choose to prioritise sleep, for my body to be healthy, for my mind to be clear and so that I can be the best parent I can be. Lack of sleep SUCKS i am on a mission to spread the message that sleep in possible, sleep is good for you and sleeping all night long is entirely possible. Not only that, but consistent evening time means you can actually plan to do things, child free things, things that make your heart sing....I live for 7pm :-)!
If you are sick of the struggle and tired of feeling tired, get in touch to see how I can help. I have troubleshooting phone calls where I can pinpoint exactly what is going on and give you the solutions to change it. I also offer a support package where I work with you daily to implement the changes that will get your entire family sleeping through the night so you can go back to feeling yourself again.