By Kerry Davies – Certified Sleep Practitioner
In this blog I am going to cover what sleep deprivation looks like; like really looks like to the thousands of families that I have supported over the years.
I will look some of the short term, most common, living consequences of sleep deprivation. I am not looking at the long term as I am guessing you are here because you want things to change, that then makes these irrelevant.
I do not ever want to scare monger anyone into getting support for sleep. I would much rather that you came to me as you want sleep to feel good, you no longer want that dread of bedtime, or the way you and/or your children feel after having a crappy night’s sleep.
So, I am lover of all things sleep, except this, I do not love sleep deprivation!
Yet so many of us, around 1 in 3 will suffer sleep deprivation be it chronic or acute, adults and children alike.
Almost always when we have a child who is sleep deprived so will we be as parents/care givers.
What does Sleep Deprivation really look like?
So firstly, I am going to talk mood, 100% if you are suffering from sleep deprivation it is going to affect your mood, if your child is suffering from sleep deprivation it is going to affect their mood; this isn’t for the better.
Now if you are both/all (the whole family) suffering from sleep deprivation…. You get where I am going here! It is probably not going to be the most calm and chilled environment.
Hell no, sleep deprivation leads us to feel short tempered and on an emotional rollercoaster mostly! From tears to laughter in 0.2 seconds flat you can almost guarantee that being in control of our stress responses is not a feature in sleep deprivation.
Moving on swiftly to stress (it’s not getting better yet!)
We will most definitely feel more stressed with lack of sleep, we also will not be able to manage this stress as effectively as if we had had that blissful night that we desperately dream of (excuse the pun).
Wow the things sleep can do!
All round sleep deprivation is rubbish. The most important thing for me as a sleep consultant, is escaping the persistent dread of bedtime. It never ends!
We wake up in the morning exhausted and grumpy, proceed through the day functioning on air and then after dinner feel that knot in our stomach that it all must start again.
For this blog, I have written worst case scenario. To be honest, for me it is any kind of dread or stress that anyone of you is feeling. There is almost always a solution to reducing bedtimes, preventing wake ups in the night, or supporting children to sleep in a little later.
So that everyone gets the sleep they deserve and so desperately need.
This can all be done in stages. When sleep deprivation is on the table it can feel like climbing mount Everest, in flip flops, when it is covered in tar.
Think about the bedtime itself. Is it taking a long time for your child to sleep? Are you sitting in their bedroom with them for a long period of time?
This is one of the most common things that parents have noted.
Whilst sitting there we often think of all the jobs we so desperately need to do.
If this is so, you can initially move a child’s bedtime a bit later.
Really focus on a calming routine with your child. Quiet play such as jigsaw puzzles, colouring and Lego are affective with this time, because you have created a later bedtime you will then have chance to do your jobs beforehand.
Wasted time seems to be a biggie. Lots of us are very time poor. This will help to make the evening feel easier.
I haven’t covered everything because your tired and you don’t want to read pages and pages (I could talk for that long!).
It doesn’t need to be this way. Tackling sleep issues in chunks and dealing with one thing at a time whilst really understanding how to protect at least some of your sleep is exactly the place to start.
It doesn’t need to be ‘completed’ in a day, a week, or a month if that is not what is right for you and your child(ren).
Remember 1 in 3 people, this is a huge problem nationally. Let’s make all the tomorrows a time to enjoy not dread. Let’s make bedtime the best time.