Tips for the Sleep Deprived Mama: How to Function on No Sleep
Sleep deprivation is no joke.
Learning how to raise a new baby is hard enough on its own. Throw in exhaustion and you’ve got a perfect storm. I remember half-crying along with my husband, feeling dumbfounded, and saying “How does no one talk about this?! No one REALLY tells you how hard this is.”
It’s the worst. For some it lasts way longer than for others, but no matter how long you’re in it, it feels impossible.
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Our little guy didn’t sleep through the night until almost a year old and now another year later, he STILL doesn’t nap well. Trying to keep life moving while sleep-deprived is a very familiar subject for me. We are expecting our second baby in 2 months and I am dreading this part. As excited as I am to meet our new little one, I keep thinking, “Am I seriously volunteering to do that again?! What’s wrong with me?!” It’s. So. Hard.
I have picked up a few tricks along the way to make the zombie days feel slightly more manageable. They are very simple steps, but you’ll be so glad you tried them.
Make the bed
I have never consistently made my bed. It just wasn’t a priority growing up and it never bothered me enough in my adult life to mess with.
BUT when I felt like I could control NOTHING else (getting my baby to sleep, constantly being covered in spit up and poop, etc.) I got some satisfaction out of this one thing.
Making my bed every day made me feel organized. I felt like something was done. Even if nothing else got done, there was something put together and neat. It just made me feel better, even if it didn’t get done until noon.
I read this a lot when transitioning into the Stay-At-Home Mom role. I didn’t start doing it for a lonnng time. It seemed pointless. Especially when I just ended up covered in spit up and poop! But finally, I gave in.
I won’t lie, sometimes it didn’t happen until after lunch. Part of me was still clinging to the hope of catching a nap most days. But nonetheless, I started getting dressed, brushing my teeth, and sort of fixing my hair nearly every day.
It really makes a difference. Again, something about feeling put-together when everything else is a mess just eases the blow of sleep-deprivation a bit.
It’s an easy step. It’s doable. And it really helps cut that zombie-mom feeling down. Bite the bullet and throw on a clean shirt and yoga pants. It’ll make all the difference.
Pick up baby’s room
I sort of started doing this just because I like to be organized. Everything in the nursery had a spot, so when we were done playing, the toy or book went back there. Easy.
Well, much easier with a newborn than a young toddler. It doesn’t happen so perfectly anymore. But in the early days, when I would have sold everything in that room (minus baby) for an hour of sleep, it helped me feel productive.
I also liked knowing that my baby had a calm and clean place to play and rest. Of course this didn’t actually lead to more sleep, but the idea was nice.
When you’re sleep-deprived, any little bit of order can make all the difference.
Eat a good meal
I know you’re exhausted. The last thing you want to do is prepare something healthy. You might really just want to veg out and stuff your face with Oreos. I get that.
But every couple of days, at least, try to make sure your body is getting some fuel. Especially if you’re breastfeeding! Drink a smoothie, eat a hearty salad, snack on some almonds.
You need all the energy you can get. I’m afraid those pizza rolls just aren’t gonna cut it, Mama. Even if you have to force down a banana Ron Swanson style once every few days, give your body something substantial. It’s going through A LOT right now. It deserves it.
You’ll be surprised how much better you feel after refueling. I always am.
Walk around outside
This one is my favorite. I don’t know what it is, but when I’m feeling groggy and gross, I just have to get outside.
I’m not saying go exercise. Yes, we should probably do that too and it would probably help a lot, but we’re talking baby steps here.
Something about walking around and getting some air just refreshes me. Even if it’s just five minutes. I feel so much better afterwards. In the winter, throw on a coat and stroll on your porch or in your yard.
If you need to, do this first thing in the morning, before Husband goes to work. That way you can go out baby-free. The morning air is even better.
I actually do this multiple times a day, baby is with me most of the time. Now, he LOVES going out. He runs up to the door and points to his shoes. Sometimes we go out for a long time, but often it’s just 10 minutes.
When you’re not getting any sleep, breathing in some crisp air and seeing something green and alive around you just helps you feel a little more alive too.
Tips for Exhausted New Moms
I hope this helps you cope with the hard days. I hope even more that your baby starts to sleep perfectly for you really soon. But in the meantime: get organized, get dressed, get some good food, and get outside. And whenever possible…get some sleep.