The 3rd of May was a joyous day! It was celebrated with a happy dance in the early hours of the morning. It wasn’t my wedding anniversary. Nor was it my birthday, or the day Little Miss was born. It was the day I was blessed with eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Lack of sleep has been the cause of spontaneous tears and pointless arguments. At one point I ever prayed for sleep. No joke. It is little wonder I felt so hideous when lack of sleep can have such disastrous consequences.
According to an article in the Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing Journal, sleep loss of more than 30 minutes each night can begin to affect daytime functioning, particularly in those parents who return to work. Harvard Medical School publishes on their website that in the short term, a lack of adequate sleep can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality.
If you’ve been pregnant, you also know that even before you give birth, your sleep is already interrupted by those pesky hormones and a bladder that is fast losing space. Interestingly, although we often feel like we are getting less sleep when we’re in those latter stages of pregnancy and in those first few months with a newborn, a study conducted by the University of California found that the total amount of sleep the parents had, did not change either the trimester before giving birth, or within the first month after giving birth. What did change was the quality of the sleep. A ‘good night’s sleep’ is one where your 90min sleep cycles aren’t being interrupted, so you manage to get what’s called a restorative sleep cycle. Dr Breus explains that this is why a shorter unbroken sleep feels better that lots of accumulated hours of broken sleep (i.e. what a new mum or dad gets). This goes a long way to explaining why my cat naps during the day, really aren’t helping me to ‘catch up’ on my interrupted sleep at night… and why I am so unbelievably happy now I’m beginning to get a good night’s sleep.
If you’re still struggling to catch up on sleep with your little one, check out the suggestions of Michael J. Breus, PhD aka The Sleep Doctor.