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You may find yourself Googling “Can I die from sleep deprivation?” I know that I did when I was in the hell-hole of the four month sleep regression with my son. If you’ve found yourself doing the same, chances are you may be suffering from sleep deprivation.
As a parent of two children, both of who went through the dreaded four month sleep regression, and who now continually challenge me with their inability to sleep through the night, I know what sleep deprivation is really like.
I’ll be honest here, it’s awful. It’s that mind-numbing, foggy feeling that seems to last the entire day. It then disappears just before you'd normally go to bed, making that extra episode of Killing Eve seem far more desirable.
Sleep deprivation ultimately means that you are not getting enough sleep, or you’re only getting broken sleep, night after night for a prolonged period of time. It can be caused by a range of things, including young children, worry or anxiety – so it’s not just caused by children who decide that night time is party time!
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Some of the symptoms I suffered from included brain fog, and the inability to make decisions or to hold a proper conversation. It created that awful slump you get in the afternoon. It also gave me the feeling of wanting to eat unhealthy food. Sleep deprivation has a habit of creating a vicious circle; where I should have been eating healthily to combat the tiredness, I was eating whatever I could get my hands on quickly or delivered to my door for ease.
If this sounds like something you’re going through, first all, don’t worry too much. It does pass. When you’re in the trenches of sleep deprivation it feels like you may never find a way out. But as time goes by and your circumstances change, your sleep deprivation should start to dissipate and eventually you should begin to get more stretches, or least longer stretches, of sleep.
To help you get through the long days of feeling sleep deprived, there are many things that you can do, and here are just a few….
Get out and about
You may not have showered in days and all you want to do when your child naps is to sleep yourself (still make sure you do this). But between the nap times, get yourself out of the house. It will instantly lift your mood. Grab yourself a coffee, see if your friends are around for a catch-up or a walk around the park. Getting outside or offloading your woes and sleep dramas will definitely help, and you will feel a lot better for it. Promise.
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There is simply no point in trying to be supermum whilst you’re sleep deprived. When you’re bone tired, please do not add to that feeling of tiredness by doing mundane chores at home, or putting too much pressure on yourself for not doing the housework. Be kind to yourself. If someone can support with the housework, doing the washing, or cooking dinner, accept it. You could consider hiring a cleaner or getting your meals delivered during this period. Whatever it takes to survive, do it and don’t feel bad about it.
Drink plenty of fluids
You may resort to drinking all the coffee and tea you can during times of sleep deprivation, or enjoying a glass of wine in the evenings. That’s understandable, but it’s also really important to drink loads of hydrating fluids such as water. Water will help your body wash out that lethargic feeling, and hopefully help you avoid that awful afternoon sluggishness. I used to add fresh lemon or lime to my glasses of water to provide an instant pick me up!
Just like getting out and about, this will be the last thing that you’ll want to do when you’re sleep deprived. However, doing at least 15 minutes of exercise a day will help lift your mood and spirits. It could be as easy as an online exercise class, going for a swim, walk or a run, or popping to the gym. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, nor does it need to be for hours. Just something to get the adrenaline and happy hormones going.
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Try to relax before bed
Get off that phone and stop the scroll, it’s not going to do you any good other than to escape the humdrum of sleep deprivation or looking after a baby (which if I’m honest can be incredibly boring at times). Instead of browsing Instagram and Facebook, have a bath without your phone, or read a book. Do anything that will help you wind down before bed, and ultimately aid you in drifting off to sleep faster.
Nap during the day
Everyone says nap when the baby naps which, during a period of sleep deprivation, is what you should be doing. Forget the household chores, or the feelings of guilt you get from napping during the day. If you’re not sleeping at night because of your children, you need to catch up on your lost sleep at some point. Please nap. Being sleep deprived won’t last forever and soon you’ll return to being supermum when your baby is having their two hour lunchtime nap!
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Go to bed early
This is an easy one to do but something we don’t usually want to do, preferring some adult time in the evening. My last piece of advice is to try to go to bed early. You never know when or how many times you will be woken during the night, or what time you will be awake in the morning. If it’s not possible to go to bed early every night, you could try going to bed early for one or two nights a week. This will allow you to catch up on some much needed sleep, yet also allow you to have some ‘me’ time in the evenings.
So, those are just some of the things that you can do to help ease your sleep deprived state. I hope that they work for you and I hope that you are feeling less sleep deprived soon!
Let us know if you’ve ever felt sleep deprived. What did you do to overcome it?
Claire Moran is a parenting blogger and freelance social media manager. Her blog The Pramshed focuses on all aspect of life but mostly the parenting of her two children. As well as writing about parenting topics, Claire is also a huge advocate of parents who set up their own businesses, and writes a weekly feature dedicated to a different business. When Claire isn't working you'll find her out and about in South East London exploring new places.