Sleep deprivation is a very effective torture technique – it “can cause impaired memory and cognitive functioning, decreased short term memory, speech impairment, hallucinations, psychosis, lowered immunity, headaches, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stress, anxiety and depression.” Source
I didn’t realise I was signing up to be tortured when I decided I wanted to become a mama! ;)
But that is what it is like – in my experience, it started at around 6 months pregnant (my reflux was terrible!)…and it’s only just now, four years on, that the torture is starting to subside. Is it any wonder then that our tempers are short, our relationships are strained and our usually enthusiastic selves end up shelved somewhere amongst the spare buttons, odd socks and the ‘I-forget-what-these-are-fors”??
So how do we cope? What can we do? Well…don’t do what I did!! If you’re offered the opportunity to sleep whilst someone minds your child – take it. Dishes don’t clean themselves and clothes (though some of my kid’s clothes look like they could) don’t stand up and walk themselves to the washing machine, I hear you thinking. I know, I know…there’s certain things that need to happen in order to keep life ticking along.
But, if you have this notion in your head that you need to be a domestic goddess as well as a mum to a newborn – LET IT GO! Don’t set yourself impossible tasks just because you think everyone else is handling it so much better. They may have a great sleeper, they may have a “nanny” or a “cleaner”, they may have a huge support network that you don’t even know about. Grab the sleep where you can, and let the other stuff slide for a while. What’s important in all this is you. You can not shine, you can not succeed, you can not survive, you can not be the mum you so want to be – if you do not look after your own health as a priority.
Aside from the practical (and obvious, yet extremely hard to action) advice just to catch sleep where you can, there are a number of ways you can support your sleep deprived system. Naturopath Tara Ross of Harmony Natural Medicine Clinic has been kind enough to offer her valuable advice to readers in a number of guest blogging articles that you can read here.