October 3, 2023

Heros In Our Midst Sleep Deprived Working Mothers

Oh no, you hear your alarm clock. We know you cannot believe it. It feels like your mind just hit the pillow because mere moments ago, you were up in your kid’s bedroom nursing or rocking or back-rubbing or offering still another drink of water or giving another persuasive lecture on how there surely is not a monster or a ghost or a giant robot with luminous eyes in their bedroom.

And it is time to start planning for work, sooner than your sleeping husband wakes up, as there’s yet lunch to be made, outfits to be selected and permission slips to be signed. However, you cannot even fault him. He also gave lots of time at the child’s room last night.

You turn on the shower and hope that the water hitting you right in the face will hit you into a high state of alertness. It doesn’t. You use layer by layer of concealer to the bruise-like pigments under your eyes, expecting to look well-rested, or at least not as a pro boxer hit you.

It is an amendment, but the sort of industrial-strength makeup you want today is only possible for Stranger Things special effects artisans. You sip your tea or your coffee and hope that the caffeine will keep you awake.

It changes you from having to make a deliberate attempt to keep your eyelids raised to them remaining open voluntarily, but no replacement for the ZZZ’s you didn’t get. You want to cry. You do cry. You consider calling in sick.

Then you understand there are at least a dozen reasons you cannot, not now.  You wonder if anybody sees you while you are commuting to work and assumes since you have got a bit of youth left in you, that partying till the wee hours is the reason for your worse-for-wear appearance. If they only knew.

Stand up in front of your classroom or sit behind your desk you, and you do your damn job. And you do it well. Because why should your coworkers or boss suffer as your snooze-averse offspring (who is napping at daycare or with the sitter today, that lucky little jerk) would not give you a lick of rest the previous evening–and as you do not understand any other way.

You see, you are a warrior. It will not make you feel better to read that, but it is the honest-to-goodness truth. You’re necessarily a soldier without appropriate ammunition that expertly slays dragons (and creatures, ghosts, and robots). When your child-free coworkers know just how sleep-deprived you are—usually moments after complaining about their laughable levels of fatigue—they look at you like the hero that you are.

So if ever you are feeling down on yourself once you had had a heavenly 6 or 7 hours of sleep (or 8; let us dream big), return to the work times when you showed up and got things done with much less of a break in your mind than any other worker’s had. It is a skill, one we hope you won’t need to rely on for long and one which would not make sense to improve a resume, ability, but a skill.

Here are some tips for parents by Johns Hopkins sleep specialist Grace W. Pien, M.D., M.S.C.E:

Sleep While the Baby Sleeps

Babies take frequent naps lasting anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, for a total of 16 to 18 hours of sleep every day. New parents are often severely sleeping deprived if the only sleep they’re getting is overnight. “Sleeping while the baby sleeps can sometimes be challenging because of other kids in the house or our internal body clocks, but it’s a good idea to try and get some rest,” says Pien.

Skip Household Chores

Rather than loading or vacuuming the dishwasher, opt for sleep. Friends and family are going to understand why the house is a mess,” says Pien. “Besides, they’re visiting to see your baby. Leave the dinner dishes in the sink for the next morning.”

Share Nighttime Baby Duties

You and your spouse can share feedings, diaper changes, and other night baby duties. Mothers can pump breast milk so their husband can give a nighttime bottle to the baby, enabling mom to get some extra shuteye.  If you need to sleep separate during the week to get your shut-eye then do it, no reason both of you should be grumpy and NOT rested.

Place the Crib Near Your Bed

Putting the baby’s bassinet or crib next to your bed makes it easier to tend to the baby and go back to sleep, making for a peaceful night. While sharing the same bed with your baby may seem fascinating, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against it because of the risk of suffocating the baby.

Ask Friends and Loved Ones for Help

Do not be shy asking for help from relatives or friends, when it’s choosing groceries, cleaning the floor, or carrying the baby while you nap. Relatives and friends may be ready to help with diaper changes and feedings during the night.

Take Advantage of Parental Leave

Employer policies on parental leave vary, but occasionally both parents can take off some time from work, allowing them to juggle baby care and leading to more sleep more comfortably. By way of instance, “Mom might take time off from work right after the baby is born, and her spouse can take leave several weeks later, helping mom to get some sleep as she transitions back to work,” says Pien.

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Good sleep hygiene can help you to get more rest, whether you have a newborn in the home. Strategies include:

  • Avoiding caffeine: This stimulant may interfere with your sleep cycle stop drinking it by 2-3pm.
  • Not using electronic equipment before bed:  Many parents may want to post the most recent images of the baby on social networking, but using cellular phones, tablets, and computers at night can interfere with total sleep time.  The light from electronics can confuse your body clock.
  • Sticking to a regular sleep schedule: As hard as this seems for new parents, try to wake up and go to bed at the same time daily. Just bear in mind that with a newborn baby, you want to be flexible and anticipate nighttime awakenings.

Assist the Baby Sleep

Starting at three months of age, many babies begin sleeping for longer stretches at night — Anywhere from 4 to 6 hours although this varies from infant to infant. By six months, two-thirds sleep through much of the night. Babies that are smaller (preemies) at the birth start to sleep for longer stretches when they are closer to 12 to 13 pounds.

To help little ones build healthful sleep habits, it is recommended putting babies down for the night when they’re tired. Though a personal choice, you may want to attempt and avoid rocking the baby to sleep in your arms before bedtime since this can become a habit.  All babies do eventually need to learn how to fall asleep in their own bed by themselves.

Try not to pick up the baby at the slightest sound, babies need to learn to self-soothing. This means not holding up your little one each time she or he fusses. Giving babies some time to calm themselves so that they can fall back asleep on their own can set good sleeping habits, which, in turn, helps parents get a good night’s rest.

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