If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times and that’s before your baby even arrives. Just sleep when the baby sleeps! Of course, why didn’t I think of that? Oh wait, I did. How many parents actually follow that advice? Aren’t there are far more pressing things to worry about when the baby gets here? And since the baby will take up every waking minute, while they’re asleep will be the only chance new parents get to do things around the house, or more importantly have some time to themselves.
But sleep deprivation is nothing to yawn about. It is one of the biggest negative effects you and your partner can suffer from when a baby arrives into the household. So ignore the laundry basket, silence your phone and turn off the TV, because following that simple piece of advice could be one of the best things you do as a new parent. Here’s why.
In a daze
When you’re sleep deprived your reaction time slows. Not only does this affect work or socialising, but also simple activities like popping out to the shop for milk. Driving while fatigued can end up being just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Given that a single sleepless night can make a person irritable and moody the following day (guilty), it comes as no surprise that those consistent broken nights can lead to depression and anxiety. Try adding that to minding a squalling child? No thanks.
There’s a reason it’s called beauty sleep. Skin can appear lacklustre with fine lines, dark circles and breakouts as a result of lack of sleep. While in deep, restorative sleep cycle the body produces collagen which makes the skin firm and elastic. Without getting a full cycle in, the body doesn’t produce enough collagen, leaving the skin dull and tired.
Loss of information
Do you ever stare at your child unsure if it’s been hours or minutes since they were last changed? If your memory acts like a sieve during the day, then it’s probably a result of a bad night’s sleep. During our sleep cycle, our brains consolidate memories and information we’ve gathered throughout the day. Without a proper cycle, our brains don’t have the chance to do that, resulting in the inability to remember simple things.
Negative health effects
As if we needed more reasoning, lack of sleep can have serious negative health effects such as diabetes and obesity. When we go into deep, restorative sleep, our body processes the glucose in our system. Without adequate rest, our bodies could develop late onset diabetes. Studies have shown that people who sleep less than six hours a night tend to be more overweight compared with people who sleep for seven to nine hours. Less rest means our brains will try to find energy from different sources, the easiest of which is food.
We’re all told how good it is to let go of our inhibitions and just act naturally. Feel what you want, say what you want, and do what you want. But when you’re not getting a consistent night’s sleep for weeks on end, following your impulses can have a more negative affect than positive. When we’re hungry we’ll go for the quick and easy bite, crisps, chocolate or a take-away. When we’re fed up with our partner we’ll lash out instead of tackling the problem with their support. Try to close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to figure out what you really want and how you’re really feeling.
So instead of using your precious few moments to watch your child snooze (or do the dishes, or hoover, or even watch TV), use that time to get yourself a few much needed 40 winks. You’ll be glad you did.