Oh dear. I’m craving doughnuts.
In most cases, I consider myself an advocate for cravings. If you really want it, eat it (within reason), and enjoy it, right?
Not in this case.
That’s because I’ve grown to recognize this specific craving as a symptom….of sleep deprivation.
Any time I find myself really, really wanting to sink my teeth into a big, puffy chocolate covered doughnut first thing in the morning, I know I’ve been treating my body badly and missing too much sleep.
And with the sleep I haven’t been getting lately, I could do some real damage in here right about now…
I’m really, really tired. In fact, I think that’s putting it mildly. My eyes are so dry this morning, I feel like they might fall out. (It probably doesn’t help that I’m always dehydrated, too.) I’ve been plagued with writer’s block, headaches, and sluggishness.
But I’m not just talking about today. It’s been a chronic problem for…maybe 15 years (?), off and on. I honestly can’t remember the last time I wasn’t tired. All through college, I worked 4am – noon, then went to class all day. My jobs have always required the alarm to go off at 3 or 4am. The last few months of my pregnancy were spent awake because my lungs were so compacted by baby that I developed horrible claustrophobia. I shot straight up in bed several times a night because I couldn’t breathe. And when I could, wiggly little arms and legs kept me awake. Although I do kind of miss that…
The last 6 months have been pretty darned sleep-free, too, as you might imagine. For months, I had to get up to nurse every 3 hours, and now, the longest stretch I ever get is 6. Even then I’m up quite a few times to go in and lay my hand on my tiny boy’s back and feel for steady, even breath. I guess I’ll get over that someday, but I’m sure it won’t be soon.
Shane has taken a night or two here and there, but I still have to get up every so often to pump or I spring a geyser in the middle of the night. Then, I have to strip the bed, and that’s a real pain, so it’s worth getting up no matter how tired I am.
Common advice: “You have to sleep when the baby sleeps.” Great in theory. In reality, not so much. Caring for a baby requires every second of waking time, so when he sleeps, I switch into Hurricane Mommy mode, trying to accomplish something, anything. Despite my efforts, it usually doesn’t amount to much beyond making sure I have clean clothes and a clean plate for dinner.
So, it’s going on 9 months or so since I’ve had more than 4 or 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep on a regular basis. And nearly 2 years since I’ve given up caffeine. Ugh. And now, I’m back at work, and training for another job.
I wonder how long a person can survive on mere snippets of sleep? Seriously. I’m thinking I have to start getting serious about scheduling in enough ZZZs.
It’s pretty common knowledge that lack of sleep can cause weight gain (hormone and blood sugar levels get erratic and out of whack, causing your body to crave sugar and carbs = doughnuts!) but there are a lot of other health concerns that can be linked to not sawing enough logs…diabetes, headaches, obesity, hypertension…the list goes on (and I just happen to have or be at risk for all of them.) A simple Google search or trip to WebMD can provide more details than you would probably want.
As new moms, we have to prioritize, and sleep seems to be the one thing that falls way, way down the list. It’s hard–there are people, both big and small, that need us whether we’re tired or not. I think it all comes down to the Superwoman mentality so many of us adopt. We can do it all, right?
Sure, I can. But not all at once. And not every day.
I’m not complaining, just explaining. I take full responsibility, as I am the one who has structured my life this way, and many of the things that cost me some sleep are the same things that have made me endlessly happy. But it’s a problem that plagues an alarming number of women in our nation, and there has to be a better way. We can exercise and eat all the healthy, energizing food we want, but if we don’t allow our bodies the proper time to rest and rejuvenate, we’re never operating at 100%.
So that’s my new goal. More sleep. The go-go-go girl in me feels lazy even saying it.
Moms and non-moms: Where is sleep on your priority list? Do you make sure you get enough? If not, why? Do you, like me, feel guilty or lazy if you take the time you need for sleep?