After 5 years I am finally getting a good night's sleep. My 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter were both terrible sleepers. Now that I am getting more sleep I feel so much better because I'm not as short tempered, I have a better memory, I'm not overeating to compensate for being sleep deprived, and I look more rested. Nobody can understand what it is like to suffer from sleep deprivation until they go through it themselves. When you are under prenatal care, nobody really sits down and teaches you how to function on little sleep.
If you are experiencing sleep deprivation, here are some tips which may help you get through it:
1. Nap when your baby sleeps. If you can't actually fall asleep then lay down and rest and recharge. A bubble bath is also a great idea. I had a difficult time doing this because I thought I should use this time to do housework and cook.
2. Accept any offers for help with household chores or babysitting.
3. If you have no one to help you around the house, hire a cleaning lady for the first couple of months (or longer) after your baby is born.
4. If you have a spouse, ask him to look after the baby and other children for just half an hour so you can do something that makes you feel good.
5. Try to get some form of exercise. A nice walk in the sunshine should give you some pep.
6. Drink lots of water and eat healthy foods. Try to limit the amount of caffeine you consume because you do not want this to interfere with your sleep when you actually do get to settle in at night.
7. Develop a support system through friends and family or even by meeting other sleep deprived mothers online.
When you are sleep deprived it is hard to function normally. You walk around in a daze and it is hard to concentrate and focus. You can become irritated easily and suffer from post-partum depression. When your body is tired, you are also more susceptible to catching an illness. It is important to look after yourself first so that you can be healthy mentally and physically for your baby. You have to let go of the fact that you can't do it all. I have always had a hard time accepting that because I am very independent and find it difficult to accept help. If I could do it all over again, I would lower the expectations for myself and just enjoy my baby. Dirty dishes and dust can wait.
Please feel free to share your experience with sleep deprivation.