Sleep deprivation - have you joined the zombie brigade yet?
Lack of sleep is common for parents, whether Digestive Overload is being experienced by their newborn or not. Sleep is essential for the cognitive brain functions and if we don’t get enough, our mental faculties begin to fail. Without it all humans:
- lose perspective
- become depressed
- experience memory loss
- heighten the release of cortisol (our stress hormone)
- find it very hard to maintain a positive outlook and sustain emotional stability
- struggle to make decisions
Many studies and known episodes in history make it clear that sleep deprivation can be very dangerous, pushing people beyond their coping mechanisms. Many years ago, newborns were raised by families and villages but the modern Western world has parents trying to cope on their own – even believing that they should be able to do so.
In today’s Western Society, a mother may be diagnosed with Postnatal Depression and given medication to help them find some equilibrium. When this happens, sadly some spiral further into self-doubt and resignation, perhaps feeling it is their fault their baby is unsettled and they aren’t a good mother. When in actual fact, what some are feeling is a normal response to lack of sleep, something everyone would feel. Add to this the stress of a newborn that may have Digestive Overload, plus other daily events or worries, and some parents can develop dangerous levels of exhaustion. Asking for help when you need it is paramount and the more planned strategies parents have to obtain healthy sleep the better.
Power-snacking at night – Adele, mum of four
"The twins were on different schedules, which did make things really tiring at times but the best way I found to cope with the disrupted sleep is to have 'power snacks' when I was up with the babies. I personally eat things like hard boiled eggs, peanut butter or some fruit. Whatever it is it helps me feel so much better."
One night on, one night off – Dave, dad of one
"This still wasn't easy but my wife and I would alternate the nights with her doing the night shift one night and i the next. It helped us get through."
Separate rooms – Shar, mum of two
"On the nights that I really want undisturbed slumber, my husband and son sleep in a separate room so I don't hear them get up for feeding and changing. We also take turns sleeping in on the weekend."
Pump and sleep – Madeleine, mum of one
"At 2 weeks old we started giving our daughter bottles. I would pump in the evening, around 9pm before going to bed, and my husband would wake at 10.30pm to feed her, leaving me to sleep from 9pm - 2am. Bliss!"
Sleep-sharing – Julie, mum of one
"Co-sleeping was the best strategy for us. At first our daughter was in the bassinet and would wake for long periods, with me pacing the floor but then someone suggested co-sleeping. She had the best sleep ever and so this was our life-saver."
Philippa's advice on co-sleeping
I teach parents a method I have used for years, called the ‘Safe-Snuggle,’ which is also taught in my book. I recommend using the 'Safe Snuggle', in a balanced manner, for at least the first eight weeks of life. Not only is it the safest way to co-sleep with your baby, it provides many amazing benefits like:
- bubs continues to be close to the familiar sound of the beating heart, whether it is mums or dads
- both parent and baby glean better sleep
- helps set up a baby’s body clock teaching them night from day
- keeps cortisol levels down both for baby and parent
- helps breast milk production
- promotes an inclusive, safe, bonding environment for newborn