Are You Sleep Deprived?
Before we discuss ways to combat sleep deprivation, let's take a look at what it really is and how it works.
Sleep Deprivation Overview
Although sleep is something every human body does, science still has a lot to discover about the specific purposes of sleep and all the parts of the brain sleep (and lack of it) affect.
What we do know is that sleep deprivation causes disturbances in the normal function of the brain and body. It leads to poor memory, irritability, lowered immune function, and a host of other adverse effects. Sleep deprivation likely plays a role in the post-partum mood disorders many women experience.
You don't have to have full-blown insomnia to suffer the effects of sleep deprivation; chronic insufficient sleep or broken sleep can cause your productivity and mood to slump. In our ultra-busy day-to-day lives, many people don't even realize they're not getting enough sleep, or that unhealthy sleep habits are the root of their physical and mental disturbances.
New moms tend to suffer the worst from sleep deprivation, because it comes at a time when the body needs to heal and refresh itself, and sleep is one of the ways it accomplishes this.
Tips to Cope With Sleep Deprivation
- Get some sleep! Yes, it's obvious, but in many cases it's easier said than done. Being a new mother is exciting, and a bit stressful, so you may be running on adrenaline without even realizing it and bypassing some chances to take a rest. The good old advice to "sleep when your baby sleeps" is actually very useful. Those little catnaps may not seem like much, but they can help you a lot in the long run.
- Ask for help. You may want to prove your competence as a mom by handling everything on your own, but that's not always best for your health. If there's anyone (the baby's father, your mom, a nanny) who can help you care for the baby or get things done around the house so you can get some sleep, take the opportunity.