We all know that feeling in the morning when the alarm goes off and it seems like the hardest thing in the world to get up. After our morning coffee/tea/juice, we usually feel better. However, if that feeling of being tired and exhausted becomes constant and it seems as though nothing can make you feel better, it’s time to make some lifestyle changes.
The most obvious reason why you’re always tired is of course, lack of sleep. Research shows that people who get at least seven hours of sleep every night are much better at concentrating and are less moody than people who sleep say, six hours. So if you’ve been getting less than seven hours of sleep at night, this is the first and most important change that needs to happen: Go to bed earlier.
The second most likely reason why you’re tired is because you’re dehydrated. If you drink less than two litres of water per day, your blood will thicken and your heart will have to work harder. This results in fatigue, so make sure you keep on top of your water intake.
The third factor when it comes to tiredness is exercise. As absurd as it sounds, moving – even though it requires energy – will give you more energy in return. It’s for this reason that we feel so amazing after a workout, while sitting all day makes you feel exhausted even though you haven’t moved a finger.
If you are sleeping enough, drinking enough water, and exercising regularly but still can’t shake the fatigue, talk to your GP. A blood test might reveal a thyroid problem or an iron deficiency – both can easily be treated through medication and dietary changes.
Do you need an energy boost right now? Take a quick power nap! Just 30 minutes can help you restore your energy levels. Alternatively, get up from your chair and walk around the block making sure you take deep breaths in order to optimise oxygen levels in your blood.
Image via doghumor.net
If you’ve ever experienced the unrelenting horror of a baby who barely sleeps, you’ll understand only too well why so many desperate parents turn to sleep schools for help.
I was one of them – nine months of sleep deprivation with our second daughter, born just 18 months after our first, saw my poor, sleep-deprived husband and I worriedly searching for answers – anything we could find to help ease our pain.
Our first baby slept through the night like an angel from eight weeks, and when our second didn’t follow suit, we were shell-shocked to say the least. What the hell was going on? And, after reading what felt like 10,000 baby books and that still barely helping, our local child health nurse suggested a local Medicare-funded sleep school located within a hospital. A tiny glimmer of hope sprang forth in my heart.
You can attend these “family centres” as a family unit, but I chose to go it alone with our little problem sleeper so that my husband could care for our toddler without disrupting her routine.
Now, there are many different sleep schools out there – mine was a four to seven day residential centre which catered for parents and their children aged up to three. It aimed to teach the following: nutrition and feeding, sleep and settling techniques, relaxation and stress management and more.
I will say from the outset that there are positives to be gained from attending such a centre, and I’m sure they help many people, but this one just wasn’t for me. For me, it felt a lot like a prison and I bristled every time a midwife gave unwanted, snarky and contradictory advice about everything from what my baby was wearing (too hot/too cold!) to the rare occasion when she was sucking on a dummy (dummies are the Antichrist!).
My nine-month-old baby and I were there to learn better sleep-settling techniques in a calm, supportive environment – or so I’d hoped. Instead, on our first night there, I was shocked and bewildered when a giant, matronly midwife started smacking my baby on the bum, with considerable force, as a sleep-settling technique!? My daughter was just as upset as I was, if not more so, poor little lamb.
I already had an effective sleep-settling routine down pat, pardon the pun, it’s just that my little one went easily to sleep, but wouldn’t ever stay there, waking every second hour or less, no matter what we tried. How was smacking her hard, to the point of shock/tears, going to help? I felt undermined and misunderstood.
And while they didn’t openly advocate “controlled crying” – the centre had another nicer name for it – they certainly were far too military tough with infants, in my opinion.
But perhaps the biggest fail about this particular centre was that it wasn’t sound-proof – each small room backed on to another and unfortunately for my daughter and I, we actually got less sleep than normal (which I’d never dreamt was possible) because our room was oh-so-inconveniently located next door to a three-year-old toddler (and his mum) whose ear-splitting howling 24/7 made me truly despair.
I lasted two nights of this incessant, God-awful noise right next to my ear before stomping out in the middle of the night to the nurses’ station to see what, if anything, was being done to help the poor mother, only to find a group of midwives on their coffee break, oblivious and uncaring to any distress, mine or otherwise.
And, as to the reasons as to why my little one still wasn’t sleeping well through the night at that stage – I’ll never know – for as soon as she hit 10 months, mere weeks after our prison, sorry sleep-school experience, she started blissfully doing it all on her own.
Since then, a GP has told me many babies simply aren’t developmentally ready to sleep through the night until nine, ten months, maybe even longer, nor should we naively expect them to be, given they’re all little individuals, with different personalities. Wish I’d gotten this advice sooner!?
For us, my daughter’s sudden, improved sleep habits were nothing short of life-changing but, looking back, if I’d just had a bit more patience, we need not have endured the sleep school – I could have, should have, just waited it out a bit longer. Ah, the beauty of hindsight.
Now, some positives from the experience, just to round things out: it was free; I attended some interesting (did I mention free?) seminars; and I got to meet many other suffering parents, with whom I swapped war stories over coffee and biscuits in the common room. Many of us heartily bitched about the prison warden-like midwives in solidarity, too.
My advice? Try it, you might like it. This particular sleep school wasn’t for me, but it might work well for you. But go in prepared and stick to your guns – there’s no rulebook on parenting, follow what your heart and gut instincts are telling you. And all babies sleep through the night eventually – don’t lose hope, sister.
What do you think? Have you attended a sleep school?
Main image via ecoroa.eu, secondary image via presschoolmummy.com; final image via theelfsdeviantart.com
Are you a secret snorer? Live in shame no more, sister – for I have it on good authority that many, many women (and men) actually snore. In fact, a huge number of people from both sexes suffer from sleep apnoea and don’t even know it, according to my GP.
Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder whereby the walls of the throat come together or collapse during sleep, blocking off the upper part of the airway. Sufferers experience poor quality sleep and fatigue and there are varying degrees of its severity.
Confession time: I’m a mild snorer. Hot, I know, sob.
In fact – gasp – I come from a long line of snorers, and even my children and bloody pets are prone to snoring like truck drivers at times. Have I cursed my family with the snoring gene? Is it hereditary?!
I pride myself on being a feminine, girly girl – so my snoring isn’t exactly ideal for me, or my husband (although he snores too, perfect!). When said husband has been so bold as to chide me for snoring, I like to tell him that it’s not snoring, it’s just me sleeping loudly, hmph.
My snoring has never been a problem until post-pregnancy, when it seems to have worsened. And while it’s not so much an issue for my husband (especially as I happily endure his snoring, too) it’s starting to worry me that I’m now waking myself up several times a night and am extra tired the next day. Although how much of this is just due to having two toddlers aged three and one, I’m not sure, and is yet to be determined.
So, off I trotted to kindly GP last week, who was quick to reassure me that both snoring and sleep apnoea are very common in both men and women. And, get this, fellow super-exhausted mums of small children, the more tired you are, the more the likelihood you are to snore. The vast and infinite horror!? No wonder I’m bloody snoring, I’m exhausted and sleep-deprived!
My GP patted me on the arm, said to chillax, and referred me to a sleep specialist whom I don’t contact, but who contacts me, after she receives my details via fax. It’s all a bit clandestine, isn’t it? Have I joined a secret, underground snorers’ movement? Is there a club? Do I now have to proclaim: “Hi, my name is Nicole and I’m a snorer”?!
Stay tuned for more. I’m still impatiently awaiting the sleep specialist’s phone call. Here’s hoping she makes contact soon… Zzz.
Despite how loving the relationship is between you and your partner there are probably always going to be things you disagree about when it comes to parenting. This may be due to the fact that you were both raised differently, or you simply have differing views on how situations should be handled. When you’re both sleep deprived even the smallest triggers can set off a full blown argument which could probably have been avoided if we’d just opened the lines of communication a little bit better.
Let’s see if any of these parenting issues that couples fight about the most seem familiar to you:
Deciding who gets up with the kids
It’s no secret that after you have children the number of hours you sleep for each night usually decreases, whether that’s because you’re getting up to a baby in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn with your toddlers. As much as we would all love a sleep in every single day, the most logical way to handle this problem is to take turns sleeping in and make sure you stick to it. It’s probably the only way you’re going to eliminate that bitterness about who is getting more sleep than who.
Dividing child and household duties
Before you had children, the duties around the house were clear – you did the dishes, the vacuuming and dusted whilst your partner swept the leaves, picked up the dog poo and hung out the washing. But now that you’ve thrown a baby into the mix there’s a whole new set of chores that need to done too, so who does all the extra work? That’s obviously something you’ll need to discuss with your partner to ensure that it’s fair for both of you. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed with the number of chores, then talk about it – your partner isn’t a mind reader and bottling it up will probably end in disaster.
Escaping for ‘me time’
Something else you have less of after you’ve had a baby is time to yourself. It’s quite common that partners will just slip off to ‘check on something’ and they’ll ‘be right back’ only to emerge or return hours later and wonder why you’re so flustered. It happens when parents are in desperate need of some time to themselves, but rather than running away and leaving your partner in the lurch, schedule in ‘me time’ for both of you each week. Having a schedule each week of work hours, daycare hours, family time and me time can be a great way of keeping track of those precious hours.
How to discipline your children
Something you and your partner need to be clear on is how to discipline your children. If you’ve created something like the naughty corner then both of you need to be clear on the rules and punishment that are associated with the naughty corner. If you’re not doing the same thing as your partner, you’re sending mixed signals to your children and the punishment won’t be as effective because you aren’t being consistent. Put aside some time to discuss how it’s best to discipline your children and stick to it.
What have you been doing all day?
If you’re a stay at home parent then you may have had this question from your partner in the past – it can be difficult for a parent who is away from the house all day to understand why it’s ended up so messy. Yes, babies are little, but they need constant attention and the chores that come with them are never ending. So rather than fight about it as soon as your partner steps in the door, sit down and discuss the best way forward once the kids are in bed. You might come to an agreement where the person at home will aim to have a certain amount of chores done each day whilst the parent who has been working all day can’t expect the house to be spotless.
Image via gottmanblog.com
Life as a new parent isn’t all adorable newborn cuddles, cooing and heart melts – you may also develop chronic sleep deprivation. Forget the epic births, painful post-birth aftermath or breastfeeding battles; for me, chronic sleep deprivation has been the most debilitating aspect of becoming a new parent for the second time.
Our first baby slept like an angel from 7pm-7am from about eight weeks. Armed with supreme hubris, when our baby turned nine months, my husband and I got cracking on baby no.2, as per our GP’s advice, given we were both in our late 30s. How hard could it be having two toddlers under 2? We’d blitzed this baby business with the first, so we could do it with the second, right? Wrong!
We were fortunate enough to fall pregnant with our second daughter straight away, and our hearts swelled to twice the size when she came into the world screaming like a banshee, just as her gorgeous sister had done. But there was one crucial difference between our two girls – the second little blighter was a problem sleeper, waking constantly through the night, no matter what we tried. And believe me, we tried everything – breastfeeding, rocking, singing and more.
This was a rude shock to say the least and all our pride and confidence was crushed, only to be quickly replaced by upset, bewilderment and angst. Would we ever learn up cope with the 5-6 nocturnal wake-up calls? It didn’t help that she was a big baby (almost 10 pounds) and a voracious breastfeeder. Now that our challenging, little sleeper is 13 months, and finally sleeping beautifully through the night, here are some handy survival tips which may hopefully help you, if faced with a devil child, sorry, difficult sleeper:
Nap when they do
I hated this well-worn advice, but you don’t really have a choice when seriously sleep-deprived – the minute your babies go down, so too should you. Take turns with your husband, or enlist the help of family members if need be, to help care for your other kids.
Get a night nurse
If money is no object (lucky you!) get a night nurse or mobile midwife to come help you survive those long, long days and nights. One of the best baby shower gifts I’ve ever heard of is a bunch of friends pitching in for the cost of a night nurse for a few months as a gift to a very fortunate mum-to-be.
Leave the chores
I know it’s often impossibly hard to ignore, but leave the dirty dishes and the mountain of laundry in favour of sleep, as often as you can. And delegate, delegate, delegate – ideally, this is when your mum or mother-in-law will show their true mettle and step up to help you.
Take turns on night duty
Another survival tactic is to take turns one night on, one night off, with your significant other. While one of you gets up with the baby for cuddles/night feeds (you may have to pump milk ahead of time for your partner), the other parent can be getting some much-needed rest.
Take a break
Make a habit of getting out into the fresh air and sunshine, as often as you can, to cope with the stress, anxiety and upset of sleep deprivation. Do something that makes you feel good to boost your self-esteem and energy levels – exercise, get a beauty treatment, or spend time with a supportive friend.
Chronic sleep deprivation seriously affects your mood and coping mechanisms – there’s also a proven direct link between infant sleep problems and baby blues and postnatal depression. Get help ASAP with your local GP, visit beyondblue.org.au or phone Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.
By Nicole Carrington-Sima