It seems like whenever I write about sleep or taking care of oneself or how parenting isn't really *that* difficult my kids like to help me put my money where my mouth is. They're cool like that. This past weekend Gerry woke up Saturday and Sunday in the wee hours of the morning (think 2-3 am) and stayed up for several hours. The second time I had stayed up to write and had barely gotten to sleep when he woke up. He didn't go back to sleep until 6:30 am so that night I basically pulled an all-nighter with a couple doses of dozing in there. Believe it or not the past few days weren't that bad though. I've learned a lot about dealing with sleep deprivation the past 6 years!
This post is mostly aimed at parents of babies and young children. A lot of the suggestions are more for stay-at-home moms (or dads), but some may be adaptable or applicable to working parents too.
Without further ado, here are 15 Things To Do When You're Sleep Deprived:
1) Maintain your coffee/caffeine intake at the same level as usual (I try to stick to my normal 1 cup in the morning) This way you will be able to rest when the moments arrive and you will feel better too (I don't like that jittery feeling I get with too much caffeine).
2) Shower and get dressed early. It will make you feel more awake and able to tackle your day. Or stay in your jammies and enjoy the fact that you can. Either way works.
3) Try to get out of the house early - go to a friend's house, the playground, or take a walk. Nothing too ambitious, just something to get you moving. If it's nice outside fresh air is especially helpful. Getting together with friends is an automatic spirit-lifter too.
4) If you don't have enough energy to get out, don't beat yourself up about it. Remind yourself that you need and deserve rest. Call your mom or a friend if you can't see someone in person.
5) If you have small children and are trying to get rest, lie down on the couch with them while they watch a show (or two!) If you cuddle with them they may not even notice your eyes are closed.
6) Listen to a meditation track on earphones while you "rest your eyes" (I have a few on my iPhone). A 15-20 minute meditation often leaves you feeling refreshed, sometimes even better than a long nap!
7) Play Music (I have nothing to add to this one.)
8) Have a nice, hot, cup of tea in the afternoon. My favorite right now is peppermint which is good for your digestion but it also can make you feel more alert.
9) Use of essential oils - I like to breathe in some peppermint for alertness too! If you have a headache some lavender is nice on your temples.
10) Make sure to play with your kids early and often in the day. If they have your focused attention early on, they will be more likely to accept you need some rest later in the day when you need it more.
11) Instead of focusing on how little sleep you got (recounting exactly how many hours, what time you were up and for how long etc.) give yourself positive affirmations that you will get the rest you need.
12) Make sure you go to bed earlier than usual when it's possible. If your kids are actually asleep at a decent hour go to sleep when they do and DON'T STAY UP TO BLOG... er, I mean stay up doing whatever it is *you* do late at night ;-)
13) Make sure you eat well - healthy, real, and immune boosting foods (I'm thinking garlic here... mmm garlic). Homemade chicken soup is good, and if you're lucky like me your husband or someone else who loves you might make you some. But keep food simple - especially for the kids. Leftovers, fresh fruit and veggies, frozen food, and if you are really desperate anything in a box. Again, do not stress about exactly what you are feeding your kids - some days you're just trying to get through the best you can!
14) Slow down as much as you can and release all expectations. Let go of accomplishing housework, cooking, your latest project etc. If your kids are tired too (which often happens) they probably need your presence more. Just be. Play games or watch shows together. Shower or take a bath together. Cook together. Nap together. I think you get the idea.
15) Remember all the times you've made it through tiredness and became rested again.
As I wrote this I was struck by how many overlapped with my list of things to do to lift your mood when you feel depressed. Also this could be a list of things to do when you're sick and you're home with your kids too! A lot of these things are great things to do every day but when I'm tired they are even more important. And the more habitual these things are, the easier they are to do and remember when you really need them!
Do you have any tips you can add to my list? What helps you get through your tiredest days?
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.