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Sleep Deprived Mum!

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

I am exhausted and just want to eat carbs and sugar all the time, why? Then feel rubbish and still have no energy.

Leptin and Ghrelin are the culprits!

These 2 hormones signal our brain to eat or stop eating. Ghrelin is that gremlin that spikes when we are sleep deprived and signals our brain to eat. Leptin levels drop when we are sleep deprived reducing those signals to our brain to stop eating.

Our blood sugar levels go a bit haywire with sleep deprivation making us crave those carbs, fats and sugars for a quick hit. Making us more sluggish. We start putting on weight, have less energy and feel low.

What can I do to feel less sleep deprived as a mum?

Quality of sleep is just as important as how much sleep we get.


1. Routine: I know I know, this sounds bonkers when there is no routine with a new baby. Going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time every day gives you much better quality of sleep and leaves you feeling less sleep deprived and better able to cope. Sleep deprivation comes with motherhood but you can help yourself make it that little bit easier to cope with. Even if you are woken up every 2 hrs in between and baby takes an hour to settle, giving you just 1 hours sleep. I’ve been there!! My son fed every 2 hours for 6 months and would not sleep during the day unless he was on me or moving in a pushchair. When I had routine I coped better.

So lets get practical. For this season in life going to bed at 8 pm is okay! You could ask your partner (you are a team and he’ll have a happier, healthier wife/partner for it) if he would see to baby while you head to bed at 8. You might get a good 2 hrs in before baby needs fed again. This was a life saver for me with my babies. Then set 7am as the time you get up. (Before you shoot me down, wait till you've read tip #2) So if baby wakes at 5 or 6 am to feed, go back to sleep till 7 am, even if it is only for 20 min. (My husband would do that 5 am feed so I could sleep till 7 am. He would sometimes do the 10 pm feed so I could sleep till the next feed, usually till midnight.) Find a set bedtime and wake up routine that works for you. Going to sleep before 10 pm gives you better quality sleep, so don't stay up till midnight, even if you just squeeze in an hours sleep before midnight.

2. Cat Nap: I was terrible at this to my own detriment. You know everyone says to you, ‘ sleep when the baby sleeps’ and you want to bop them on the head and say, ‘seriously?’.

‘How?’ Your support network comes in here! (Visit my blog on the 4th Trimester for help with this). Sleep is more important than the dishwasher or washing. See if someone can help with pre prepped meals or pop over to watch baby so you can shower. Splash your face with cold water if a shower is just so not happening! (after your 20 min shut eye)Then you can nap when baby naps. Note I said nap not sleep ;)

Keep cat naps to 20 to 30 min. Any longer and you will feel groggy. Who knows baby might sleep for 1hr and you get to have a quick nap, go for a pee and eat a banana! So every time that baby falls asleep just close your eyes, breath and snooze. Even if you are with baby. If it means cancelling that tots group it is more important for your sanity. Even if your first cat nap of the day is 8am! This is a season to rest, build your nest, protect your space for you and baby.

3. Calming the nervous system: When it is possible run yourself a bath with Epsom salts (just for you) for a soak before climbing into bed. I know it’s rare but try prioritise when you can. There were evenings (many of them) when my babies just would not settle for anything. When it feels like you have been feeding since 3pm and it is 7 pm and your baby is still crying and so are you? Hop in the bath with your baby. Climbing in the bath with my baby and feeding in the bath soothed and settled us both! (remember to check the temp of the bath for baby)

4. Breath: Breathing effectively calms our nervous system and helps us rest. Try ascending breathing. Start by breathing in through your nose for the count of 3 and out for the count of 3, then 4, then 5 and then 6. You can go all the way to 8 with practice. Expanding into your ribs as you inhale. You can do this while sitting feeding baby or when you climb into bed. Anytime during the day to reduce your stress levels and anxiety.

5. Blue light: Blue light interferes with our quality of sleep. It comes from screens and lights on phones, chargers and monitors. Try to not watch screen or sit on your phone near bedtime or in the middle of the night. Read if you can or listen to music. Get an audio book if you don’t have the energy to read. Remove chargers and electrical items that have little blue lights on them from your room. This has been scientifically proven as well as experiencing the huge difference in making changes myself. It took self- discipline but man it was worth it. Black out your room, make it as dark as possible if you can. Having a little night light for those night feeds.

Give it a go. Start with picking 1 or 2 of the above to implement at a time and give yourself grace and patience. Things won’t always go to plan. Part 2 will look at other effects sleep deprivation has on our bodies and how we can help ourselves by making realistic changes to our hydration, nutrition and exercise as a new mum.

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