Sleep deprivation hit me hard. My youngest didn’t sleep for two years, and due to the lack of sleep, I changed. My mental wellbeing changed. Before having children I could never fully appreciate the importance of sleep, and I was never warned how sleep deprivation had very similar links to postnatal depression.
I felt flat and I felt overwhelmed by the smallest things; but overall I felt anxious - from the moment I woke up in the morning to when my head hit the pillow at night. I knew I felt anxious about when my little one would sleep or how many times I would be woken up at night, but the anxious feelings I experienced seemed more than that.
It also wasn’t just my mood that changed, because of the lack of deep restorative sleep, I experienced night terrors and my migraines became worse. I was even advised to have an MRI scan because at one point I was experiencing at least 2 migraines at week.
I knew I didn’t feel right but I couldn’t fully understand why. I didn't depressed. I just didn't like myself.
Looking back I wasn’t fully present, and I wasn’t able to enjoy motherhood the way I wanted. It makes me sad and makes me wish I had changed this sooner. But it is hard to make changes when you feel like there is no way out of that dark sleep deprived tunnel. I felt too guilty, too overwhelmed and tired to ask for support.
When my daughter finally started sleeping, because I plucked up the courage to ask for help, it meant that I could start to mend myself. First of all by getting a full night's sleep. It was only once I started to sleep and once I started to study to be a sleep coach, that I could fully understand the power of sleep. That it really can restore your body and your mind.
I believe that we need to be educated about the effects of sleep deprivation and be open to how we are feeling when sleep is broken. We are told how much sleep our little one needs, but I feel that as caregivers we are forgotten about - “just sleep when your baby sleeps.” But what if our baby doesn’t sleep, or we have another child to look after, and a household to run, a job to go to?
It took me a long time to get over the effects of sleep deprivation and I don’t want anyone else to feel the way I did. Your sleep will change once having a baby, but no one should suffer beyond the point where they feel like they can’t cope anymore.
We all need to sleep. We all deserve to sleep, and deserve to bound - each and every day.