FOR ANY PARENT, shift worker, insomniac, person living with chronic pain or College student, you all know how much even 1 night of poor sleep can effect your mind, mood and body.
Sleep is no joke. You need it to function.
You might be able to go your adolescence on minimal sleep, but not now. Not anymore.
Sleep is when your body recovers, heals and goes through growth spurts for younger people. But sleep can also affect your hormones, mood, endurance, cognitive abilities as well as physical healing.
I’ve written about the research behind the physical changes of poor sleep, but what about the psychological?
You’re cranky, aren’t you?
Exhaustion makes people impatient, easily angered, frustrated and can trigger resentment. So no wonder so many couples consider divorce after having children!
Jon and I are newly weds. Our love is new, fresh and child-less.
I have some fears about becoming an impatient monster when I’m lacking sleep and trying to take care of a new born.
Being aware of this is one thing, but acting in a mature and logical way when you’re exhausted is another.
So I guess it takes practice, napping whenever you can with baby, but probably most of all… community.
1. Practice?… Are we talking about practice?
It takes A LOT of practice to be in the moment. It takes work to remember that you create your perception of life.
I remember when I was a kid competing in gymnastics. If I had a bad night’s sleep I was so scared that I would have a bad day at the gym. I’d use the excuse I’m so tired to drag myself around and not perform to my best.
However, if I had a poor nights sleep the day before a competition, there was no way I was using sleep as an excuse. I had my game face on and I was ready to dominate and perform to my best potential.
There are obvious physical changes when you sleep poorly, but they are often exaggerated by the mental games that we humans play.
You can allow fatigue to control your mood, thoughts and behaviours, or you can say…
“Screw you, I’m in control and I am deciding to have a positive outlook!”
Now if you have ongoing nights of poor sleep, this attitude can actually run you into the ground. This is what is often called, Adrenal Fatigue.
It’s the same concept as taking a pain killer so that you can play sports.
If you’re in pain (or exhausted) and you cover up the symptoms telling you to rest, you end up hurting yourself even more and not allowing your body to heal.
So on to the next exhaustion tip…
2. Nap time
Fortunately I can nap almost anywhere at anytime. Not everyone can do this, but I think that naps will probably save my exhaustion life when baby arrives.
If you are the type that cannot nap, making sure you get the best quality of sleep possible will be important.
My colleagues often have a cradle right beside their bed so that breastfeeding at night is a little bit easier to fall asleep right after. Also, PILLOWS!
Lots and lots of pillows! Sitting up to breastfeed is often necessary to get a really good latch, but once babe is on… the mountain of pillows will let you slide down to a more comfortable position so that you and baby can fall asleep after feeding is over.
But more than just strategies to mentally overcome exhaustion and physically catch a few more zzz’s… is to have support
3. Come together… right now, over me!
[cue guitar solo]
What’s even better than pushing yourself to stay in a positive mindset and sneak in a couple of naps when baby is sleeping is to have someone give you some time off.
Whether it’s daddy, your partner, a grandparent, friend or next door neighbor, reaching out to your support network and asking for help will be key!
As least for me. I’ve been known to be bad at asking for help, so this will be a huge change in my life that I will have to get better at.
Asking for help, accepting help and allowing myself to not feel guilty for being their for my babe 24/7.
Maybe a friend can come babysit for 1 hour while you nap, shower, do laundry or get a manicure. What ever it is that will nourish your soul and have you be the best mum and wife you can is good.
No guilt for taking care of yourself.
No shame in saying you need a helping hand.
That’s what your community is there for, so use them.
I love that I am writing about all of these things now, before I am a mum, because I’m sure when I look back a year from now I will either say… “Wow, I was right on point”, or “YOU HAD NO IDEA WHAT YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT!”
Haha… if you have some parenting advice I’d love to hear it! Really!
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