How to Survive Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation can be absolute torture, can’t it?! I thought I knew what sleep deprivation was until baby #3 came along. That sweet baby deprived me of decent sleep for FOURTEEN. STRAIGHT. MONTHS. So I know how you’re feeling. It’s one of the hardest things in the world to go through, but here are a few tips that will hopefully help until you’re past this difficult season of sleeplessness.
Rest when You Can
You really do need to try to rest when you can even if you can’t follow the age-old advice of sleeping when the baby sleeps. When you’re utterly exhausted, small moments of rest will help more than you think. So if the baby falls asleep in her swing, take a minute to lie down on the couch. If your kids are watching a movie, stretch out in your recliner (or the floor!). If I’d had a particularly hard day, I’d have my husband take over with the kids as soon as he got home from work so I could take a quick nap before dinner. Any little bits of rest that you can squeeze in are better than nothing at all. (Hey, I’ve even taken a 15 minute nap on the bathroom floor before. Talk about a make-it-work moment!)
Determine Priorities with Your Spouse
Plain and simple, you’re not going to be able to accomplish everything that you need to accomplish when you’re going through a season of sleep deprivation, so sit down with your spouse and figure out what’s truly important. My husband and I had to shift our priorities quite a bit when our daughter was refusing to sleep. We decided that my normal SAHM responsibilities would be whittled down to just keeping the kids alive and trying to keep the dishes clean. He was responsible for the most necessary household laundry and fixing his own meals. On the weekends we’d try to accomplish some extra tasks together, but we also had to lower our standards and not worry about the fact that we had dusty furniture or cluttered bedrooms. We also found ourselves having to say no to outside responsibilities. During that period of time, our lives were just too crazy for him to take on extra hours at work or for me to help out with vacation Bible school at church. We went into basic survival mode and just focused on what was absolutely necessary. Did we have a dirty house and irritated friends and coworkers? Yep, but we figured we’d have a clean house again one day and that the people who were irritated with us would eventually get over it. We weren’t being selfish, we were simply surviving!
One Step at a Time
Sometimes the best thing you can do is take things one day at a time, one hour at a time, one step at a time. When you start to feel like you can’t possibly go on, focus on making it through the day in baby steps. Tell yourself that you’ll be able to sit down if you can just make it through the next 15 minutes. Remind yourself that nap time is coming soon. Focus on the fact that your spouse will be at home to help you tomorrow if you can just get through today. Breaking your days into manageable chunks will make life a lot easier than if you focus too much on the big exhausting picture.
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. More than likely there are people in your life who would love to have the chance to help you out, but don’t assume that they’re capable of reading your mind. Ask! It might be a humbling experience, but the people who love you want to help you. Let them know when you need help, be grateful, and promise to pay it forward one day.
Vent but Stay Positive
Allow yourself the chance to vent. What you’re going through isn’t easy, so don’t feel like you have to plaster on a fake smile all the time. Sometimes a good venting session with a friend or a good cry will help you release enough steam to be able to keep on trucking. But also try to stay positive as much as you can. Allow yourself that good cry, but then remind yourself that this is just a temporary season, that things could be so much worse than they are, and that things will eventually get better. Sleep deprivation is HARD, but it won’t last forever. If you can keep that in perspective, it’ll help you to make it through. Hang in there, Mama!