Sleep deprivation affects the way you parent.
I know, right.
Can you believe it? I mean, really, it does seem fairly obvious, doesn’t it?
And if you’ve experienced both parenting and sleep deprivation at the same time, which I’m guessing is the experience of some several billion parents out there, you may feel it a little “well, duh?”
Have you done any reading of parenting paraphernalia lately? Like, over the last fifteen years or so?
Sleep deprivation, it seems, whilst it is oft spoken of in rather flippant terms, and fobbed off as “Yeah, babies are like that” is not something parents actually experience. At least, according to everything I’ve read.
Which is broad and a lot.
We all know that those first few 6 months to 6 years (and beyond for some poor souls) is a world of sleep deprivation.
Yet in these moments, the literature is full of all sorts of useful parenting advice about how parents – and mothers more specifically – should do, should not do, and how they should behave.
Things like … oh, making sure you know which breast you fed from last, and how many scoops of formula were put in the bottle.
Things like not yelling at your baby to go the fuck to sleep, not showing any negative emotion, not telling your kid to go away and leave you alone, or to be quiet, or perhaps please stop banging the fucking saucepans for ten minutes. Please?!
Things like always being respectful and speaking politely, even while your kid is having a screaming tantrum about something futile (which is just about every tantrum known to child), and only a bad mother would send their kid to school without their reader bag, or library bag, or run perpetually late to various things.
Only good mothers remember everything, are never late, and don’t ever simply thing “this is too hard” and serve up a bowl of WeetBix for dinner.
Writing from a place of sleep deprivation, I take umbrage to such blather.
Well, not like overall. Just in how it is presented and with no respect nor reference to things that mothers actually experience.
For a while, many, many years ago, around the time I started thinking my family and I would all be better off if I was dead, such was my parenting incompetence, I thought there was something wrong with me.
That I was the only one who was incapable of remembering boobs, counting scoops of formula, controlling my urge to sob uncontrollably, and to be able to make rational decisions like “do I need to turn the oven on to cook the chook?”
Admittedly, three is not a very big number to remember when scooping formula. You would be amazed, however, how many times I miscounted.
I was even capable of fucking up the making of two instant coffees. Yes, I possess a remarkable talent.
Then I researched sleep deprivation. Because I was bored, I found sleeping babies boring, I found my life boring, and it seemed like a fun thing to look into.
This is what lack of sleep – and we’re talking here even missing out on an hour or two a night of what you actually need, not the regular interruptions one faces when they have a newborn – does for you, your body, and your brain:
- Shortened attention span
- Slower than normal reaction to things
- Poor judgement
- Reduced alertness
- Reduced awareness and ability to assess the environment, situation and circumstances
- Reduced decision making skills
- Reduced memory
- Reduction in ability to concentrate
- Increased risk of fixating on one thought
- Increased risk of moodiness, bad temper
- Reduction in tolerance for noise and interruption
- Reducing efficiency in carrying out day to day tasks
- Loss of motivation
- Loss of energy
- Increased risk of making mistakes by forgetting something
- Increased risk of making mistakes by making the wrong decision
- Brief periods of sleep that range from a few seconds to a few minutes; referred to as ‘microsleep’
(Source: Better Health Channel: Sleep Deprivation)
One would think, then, that it stands to reason that mums would, indeed, go walking around with the inability to count to three, and remember to take the baby with them when they leave Furniture Galore. A place they can’t remember the reasoning behind their going to in the first place.
It is, however, a very, very good thing that mums are totally immune to sleep deprivation, thanks to all that wonderful physiological and biological stuff that occurs when they have a baby and that is removed from their body around the time their placenta is delivered.