When I was a kid, I envy the grown-ups because of one reason: they can sleep late at night. How cool it is to stay up late and watch TV, play games, or do whatever you want! I dreamed of staying until I see the sun rises and watch how the night turns into day.
It was naive of me to aim sleepless nights. Little did I know that my dreams would come true and it turned out to be a nightmare. Now that I have a child, I wished I could sleep more hours and earlier than I normally would.
So, what is the reason for the sudden flip of the coin? Why do I want to sleep all along when I always wanted to “un-sleep” my way through the night?
The first few days that I had a baby, I can endure sleepless nights because I wanted to be there every time my baby needs me even in the middle of the night.
The joy in my heart while watching her to sleep lets me forget my need to rest my head for that dose of zzz’s.
Well, aside from my lovesick mood those nights, waking up in the middle of the night is necessary when your baby wakes up and cries for milk.
Everything begins to wind down when I felt exhausted physically and my mind is less confident than it was before. My eyes becomes too sore and wanted to shut down for long hours and my body starts to feel weak. All in all, my body tells me that I am deprived of my needed sleep.
Science would tell us that our brain needs a reset every day and it can only be achieved when we do proper sleep. In this phase, our brains stay active and detoxify so we can function mentally well the next day. Without enough sleep, we will find it hard to focus and learn so it creates a bigger and more complex challenge when taking care of our baby’s needs. In other words, you need quality sleep for your brain to function the right way.
Sleep affects almost every type of tissue and system in the body – from the brain, heart, and lungs to metabolism, immune function, mood, and disease resistance. Research shows that a chronic lack of sleep, or getting poor quality sleep, increases the risk of disorders including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity.”National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
There is more to sleep than just resting your body for the day and doing it habitually. Sleep is as important as eating the right kind of food for your body, drinking water, and exercising. It helps in preventing illnesses and diseases that will cause more problems in our life later on.
Signs That You Need More Sleep Now
- Your mood is affected by the smallest of things. You easily get tired of a small task. You feel irritated by menial things. You get angry even when you don’t have to.
- You forget a lot of things. Concentration is very challenging and you cannot focus on one thing. You tend to forget some things you did a few seconds or minutes ago.
- You feel sleepy. Such a feeling is one way of our body telling us to get some sleep. Don’t contradict your body but always listen to it.
- You are making mistakes you never thought you would. Because you lack focus and your brain cannot function properly, your judgment on things is compromised, which enables you to make mistakes.
- You are getting sick. Sleep boosts our immune system. The lack of it will only weaken our body’s defenses.
When I deprived my body of sleep, I became cranky and in a bad mood the next day. It felt like the world is against me that day and I just want to frown and be angry with anyone. I easily get frustrated with every minor mistake and it will affect the rest of my day. It was never a good day for me.
Is there no way out of sleep deprivation when we have a baby? Do we have to endure this phase and suffer the consequences later on? Are we being martyrs when we deprive ourselves of sleep for the sake of our baby?
The answer is – No. Let me start with the last question. It is never, I mean in any way, a wrong thing for a parent to take care of himself/herself. I will never forget this piece of safety advice when flying in an airplane.
Put on your oxygen mask first so you can put on your child’s mask. What good will it serve his/her mask when you ran out of oxygen and faint? The same is true for parents. Take good care of your body so you can better take care of your child.
We do not need to endure and suffer sleep deprivation because the good news is there are ways for us to get more sleep without compromising our role as parents.
Check out our list of ideas below:
Create your bedtime routine.
It is always good advice for parents to create a bedtime routine for their children to help them go to sleep. It also works for us. Create a few before-bed habits that will tell your body you are going to sleep in a few minutes.
Avoid looking at any electronic screen.
The glare your eyes get from looking at the screen will cause it to become more active, which will find it hard to sleep afterward. Instead, read a book, listen to music, or just look out the window and enjoy the night sky.
Catch up on some sleep during the day when you have a chance.
When your baby is asleep, try to get a power nap rather than working on a chore that you can do later on. If it is not your turn to take care of the baby, take advantage to get some sleep.
Release your thoughts.
It sounds easy but I agree that it is a difficult challenge. However, doing so will help your mind relax and stop thinking or worrying. If you cannot do anything about it now, leave the thinking for tomorrow.
Schedule your household chores.
Organize when you have to do the laundry, vacuuming the house, or clean the bathroom. Writing all your chores for the week or month will help you find a way to manage your time well for you to get enough sleep.
Avoid consuming any stimulating food or drinks.
Caffeinated drinks will only increase your energy and will make it hard for you to sleep. Avoid these drinks at night. Instead, drink herbal teas.
Ask your partner to take turns.
You both deserve some good sleep so take turns especially during the weekends who will wake up for tonight. It is not a selfish thing to ask for some rest when you have to.
Do not overwork yourself.
If you begin to feel exhausted, hire a babysitter to watch over your baby while you get some sleep. You can also ask some friends or family members to take care of your baby for a few hours.
Never expect too much from yourself.
You also deserve a break. It is not a bad thing to take care of your body so give yourself some room to breathe. You don’t have to be a super perfect parent to be a good parent to your baby.
Do not commit to added activities than you can handle.
If it takes a lot of time and effort to organize an after-baby party or a dinner celebration, do not pressure yourself. Be honest with your family and friends about your condition and they will understand. They might even offer to host the party for you.
Take Care of Yourself!
Getting enough sleep is one way of telling yourself and your family that you love them and you want to be there always. It is a humble act of saying you are still in control. So, do something for yourself, get enough sleep, and be the best you can always be. Wishing you more zzz’s!
Photo by Vladislav Muslakov on Unsplash