For mothers, lack of sleep is second nature and comes with the territory, but it’s probably affecting you in more ways that you know and there are some things you can do to ensure the sleep you do get is of good quality and helping you re-charge. Sleep is one of these subjects that everyone knows a little about, but seldom do I see this knowledge ever put into practice. Did you know you can die quicker from lack of sleep than you can from lack of water?
Here is what happens to your body and brain as you decrease your sleep:
- Decrease in alertness (missing 1-2 hours will have an impact)
- A lack of sleep will affect how you process and remember basic information
- It will make you feel moody and you will more likely move toward a conflict state of mind, making you more stressed
- You’ll find it hard to exercise, which in turn will have an affect on your mood all over again
- Accidents! Driving tired has accounted for numerous accidents and fatalities. Your ability to react is significantly reduced.
The above problems are only on short-term sleep, if you continue to operate without the proper amount of sleep you will start to see more long-term problems and sometimes serious health problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, depression. It can also lead to premature wrinkling, dark circles under your eyes…it also tends to increase the stress hormone, cortisol, within the body, thus making recovery harder.
So what do we do? Of course there is a time and a place for lack of sleep, being a parent is one of those times; nothing you can do about the late-night feeds, the sleepless nights and being overtired. However, you can minimize the blow to the body and mind with these simple steps.
- Social media/LED lights – Take all the phones, computers out of your room. Artificial light will interrupt your sleep, whether you realise it or not. It will interrupt your circadian rhythm, which is how your body regulates so many of the important systems within the body. Black out your room and those few hours you get before baby wakes up, will at least be quality sleeping time.
- Naps – A 30 min nap can reverse the impact of a bad nights sleep.
- Drink more – When you’re fatigued you get dehydrated, the more water you drink the more awake you’ll feel.
- Exercise – Training boosts adrenaline levels, speeds up metabolism and will improve the way you feel.
- Get outside – Sunlight helps you battle the sleepiness, increases your vitamin D and B levels. It will improve you mood, improve you immune system and help you focus.
- Track your sleep patterns – Record your sleep every day. Self monitoring can keep you aware of how much you have or haven’t got and will allow you to make better choices based around this knowledge.
In the end the more you know about it the better informed decisions you can make day to day on how and what you do. Make some simple changes when and if your sleep patterns are being disrupted and you’ll come out the other end of it all a much more productive person!
Written by: Kev Toonen, Strength Coach & Body Science Ambassador