Sleeplessness: The New World Of Mum Sleep Deprivation

by Lauren Libbert |
Published on

So, you’ve had three hours sleep and that familiar sense of delirium has taken over. There’s only one thing you can do – stop your lack of sleep bringing you down

Before you became a mum, a lie-in probably meant snoozing until midday and the only reason you had a permanent headache was because of your penchant for mojitos. Then along came baby and it’s goodbye sleep, hello pasty complexion and a matching set of under-eye baggage.

But, with a little help, you can get through the day after little or no sleep.

Set yourself a bedtime routine

It’s time for bed and you’re exhausted, but you’re so anxious about your baby waking, you can’t drift off. That’s why a night-time routine is as important for you as for your newborn.

‘You may be tempted to just fall into bed, but get a system in place so your body knows to start winding down,’ says sleep expert Chireal Shallow.

Have a banana or a few slices of turkey on a cracker before heading upstairs – they contain the amino acid tryptophan, which can help you nod off faster.

Create the right sleep environment

When you’re frequently up during the night, you want to be able to get back to sleep fast, so keep your environment as conducive to rest as possible.

‘Have the lights low and keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature,’ says Chireal.

The importance of a good breakfast

After a bad night, a good breakfast is everything – you need a hit of protein and slow-releasing carbs for energy. Nutritional therapist Jill Barber suggests homemade muesli of porridge oats, puffed rice and buckwheat mixed with dried fruit and nuts.

‘It’ll wake you up and keep you fuller for longer,’ she says.

Scrambled eggs or peanut butter on toast are good alternatives.

Keep topped up with energy food

If you’ve barely closed your eyes all night, you’ll have high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This can slow your digestion, affecting your blood-sugar and energy levels.

Sleep deprivation might make you want to reach for the doughnuts, but hold yourself back. ‘Sugary quick fixes boost you in the short term, but they’ll cause a crash later,’ says Jill.

Sleep deprivation might make you want to reach for the doughnuts, but hold yourself back

Try the 20-minute lap limit

We’re not talking hours here but, if you’re at home and your baby’s asleep, try a power nap. ‘Set your mobile phone alarm for 20 minutes’ time and you should wake less tired,’ says Andrea. ‘Any longer and you risk feeling groggy.’

If you’re at work, sit somewhere quiet, close your eyes for five minutes and take deep breaths.

Don’t overdo the alcohol

However tempting it may be to lose yourself in a bottle of wine after your baby’s asleep, stick to no more than one glass a day and avoid alcohol more than four hours before bed.

‘Not only can it spoil your sleep, but it can make you feel even more sluggish,’ says Jill.

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