The working mom’s guide to surviving sleep deprivation
“Mombies!” (Mom-zombies) They’re everywhere! Symptoms include red blotchy & puffy eyes, pale complexion, blank stares, messy hair and possibly flats at the office because a mombie is an uncoordinated mess. If you recognize a mombie at the office don’t approach unless you have a hot cup of coffee to offer her. Though not completely dangerous, approaching the sleep deprived mom may turn into a scene from the Walking Dead.
All jokes aside, sleep deprivation can have adverse affects on one’s health, as the chances of experiencing delirium & hallucinations reach an all-time high. It’s no surprise that a lack of zzz’s can lead to a groggy day at the office but blurry eyes and gaping yawns are the least of your concerns. You need sleep as much as you need to eat and breathe as your body uses the down time to repair your cells & tissues, tending to your physical & mental health to gear you up for the day ahead. Lack of sleep affects your cognitive abilities, brain functionality & emotional state and if it continues over a period of time can lead to chronic illnesses.
The average healthy adult requires 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night, and to a working mom this sounds like a dream out of reach as the pressures of juggling a gruelling 9 to 5, pick-ups, drop-offs, doctors appointments, board meetings, presentations, deadlines are all looming. Add to that a sick child and the odds are that most working moms are averaging 2 hours of interrupted sleep a night, if that! A shocking 68% of moms fly solo during night-time routines and care of the little ones. It’s a tall order for a mom as it brings her “work-day” to a whopping 19 hours if the average mom wakes at 05h00 & gets into bed at 00h00am. Surprisingly 82% of the moms surveyed said they preferred to be the primary care-giver to their children. Of course, mommy-hood is not the only reason one may be sleep deprived, chronic sleep deprivation can be brought on due to stress, the loss of a loved one, depression etc.
All of the reasons above need to be treated with the same approach and that is to seek professional help as in some more severe cases a doctor may need to prescribe medication to help you sleep and monitor your condition once diagnosed.
Moral of the story: Do not take this lightly and if you or someone you know is struggling with sleep deprivation, take the time to get you/them the help needed.
One of the side effects of sleep deprivation is MICRO-SLEEP, this is where you fall asleep for a few seconds or minutes but don’t even realize it. Scary much? Understandably, it may not always be easy to pass on the responsibility of child-rearing when you’re a single mom but it is vital to your health and well-being that you build a strong support structure at home of people who are willing to lend a hand so you can get some shut-eye.
According to Healthline, the body needs sleep to ensure the central nervous system, immune system, respiratory, digestive & cardio-vascular system functions optimally. In a nut-shell, this is to enable you to maintain cognitive ability, keep your emotions in check, help you fight off infection, not gain weight (yes another reason to try to squeeze in some sleep as you burn calories when you sleep), curb hypo-tension, the risk of lung or heart disease. You see how vital sleep is?
The guidelines below could be followed to help ease you into a sleep routine naturally:
- EXERCISE: It may not seem logical when you are low on energy to use your reserves on strenuous activity but we’re not talking about an hour long cardio routine here – just 15 – 30 mins of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) could help your energy levels soar. This is due to aerobic activity increasing your heart-rate & thus blood flow.
- WATER: One of the reasons a hang-over feels so terrible is because your body is dehydrated. It is similar when you are sleep deprived, so drink small amounts of cool water throughout the day.
- VITAMINS: Up your daily multi-vitamin intake to ensure you’re not depriving your body of the nutrients it needs to boost your energy levels. Consult your doctor or pharmacist to find one to suit your needs. If you prefer the ALL natural route then juicing may be the way to go: Simply juice up your favourite fruits & green veggies & glug it down like your body needs it.
- HOLD THE CAFFEINE: This may seem counter-productive but caffeine, even if entering your system intravenously, will do nothing to alleviate your sleep deprived state as it only dehydrates you due to its mild diuretic effect.
- GO TO BED EARLY: Listen to your body and ignore the pile of dirty laundry, dirty dishes & toy strewn family room and allow yourself to just go to bed early.
For many moms, sleep deprivation is a standard feature of mother-hood, just like blouses stained with spit-up and screaming tantrums…and there’s the more general problem: Moms feel like they just don’t have 8 hours in their day to reserve for sleep! If you don’t stay up to get the dishes done, sort out the next day’s lunches & file all the day’s artwork, how will it ever get done?
Think hard about what your sleep loss is costing you. Sure, you could spend more hours awake by shaving time off your sleep. But if you’re a chronically sleep-deprived mother, how enjoyable and productive will your time awake be? What’s the benefit of reducing your sleep just so you can drift through the next day feeling like a zombie?