How to Survive New Mom Insomnia Induced Exhaustion
We all know that we are supposed to get 8 hours of sleep to function at our best.
Of course, that seldom happens, and if you are a mother, even on more rare occasion than that. And if you are a new mom? Well, you know that 8 hours of continuous sleep is as big a myth as the unicorn.
But there has to be something that we moms can do to beat the insomnia and survive the exhaustion that it brings with it.Lack of sleep can cause a laundry list of side effects or co-morbid diagnoses like greater risk for heart attacks, stroke, cancer and just a general shortening of your lifespan.
After about 17 hours with no sleep, your brain will begin to function like someone who is inebriated. This is the slaphappy effect that so many of us mothers have found ourselves in.
It sounds like the fix is easy; ask your mom, husband, neighbor, the stranger at the OB/GYN office or the old lady with the kind face at the Starbucks this morning if they will watch junior while you catch up on your sleep.
Only it doesn’t work that way. You cannot sleep load. You have to catch up by working at it progressively, like learning a foreign language.
So once you get into that deficit, it’s easy to feel run down and get stuck there. Sort of like when we were in college and signed up for all those credit cards they were giving away like lollipops in the quad, only to run to the pub and max it out being the coolest friend ever.
Yeah, that debt stays and you have to pay it back, even if you wasted it all on beer and Boone’s farm.
Me, I am an insomniac by nature and after I had kids, I thought, no big deal. I mean I was already existing on 4 hours of sleep a night, but there is a big difference between existing on four hours of sleep when all you have to do is go to work, come home, make dinner (or not) and kiss your husband goodnight. There is no set in stone obligation and really, if you fall asleep on the couch while watching a movie, it’s cute.
Don’t try that shit once you have kids. There is no time to fall asleep on the couch, unless you have the flu and you more or less passed out and you still pray that no one burns down the house or escapes beyond your reach.
Now, you have to get a lot more function out of your 4 hours. You have to take care of somebody else 24 hours a day and meet all his or her needs. This includes but is not limited to changing diapers, feedings and cuddling away the nightmares in the middle of the night, and don’t get me started on days they get shots.
You my as well invest in crack, because you won’t be sleeping. Just kidding, crack is whack. Try Redbull, but not if you’re breastfeeding.
So the best thing to do is try to get some more sleep.
- The first rule that you will ignore and you will wish you didn’t is SLEEP when the baby sleeps. For the love of God, listen to me, woman. You will never have this again. Once you have two, forget it. You will never sleep again. Ever, for 18 years. So heed my warning.
- Next, if you are one of those fortunate women who has their child on a schedule, make it your schedule. That baby will be up in a few hours to sleep. At least you will be able to squeeze in some hours of straight slumber. You will be tempted to stay up and have alone time with your husband. Don’t do it. You will wish you had chosen the sleep eventually. He will still be there; your sanity may not be.
- No alcohol or caffeine right before bed. I promise it will mess your sleep up worse than it already is. Do you really want to be just nodding off when junior needs to be fed?
- Stay away from all electronics. I know you will be tempted to chat on Twitter or sneak in some Dexter after the kids go to sleep, but electronics only serve to get you all amped up. It’s like turning the switch of your brain to on and then cranking up the volume.
- Read a book in a dim lit room. I know that it’s counterproductive to everything your mom told you growing up, but nothing will put you to sleep faster than grabbing a good book and start reading. It’s like a sweet lullaby to your brain.
These are my recommendations. Now, only if I could follow my own advice.
What is your trick for catching some shut eye when you had a newborn?
Photo Source: Deborah Cruz