Finally got around to writing another blog. Between technical difficulties (our desktop computer died), lack of motivation and a serious case of diaper funk (yes that’s a real thing) that has me stumped, my blog ended up on the back burner. But I’m back!!
We all know how important sleep is. We need it to think straight, be productive and to maintain emotional balance. When someone has one night of poor sleep, they feel it the next day. Stretch that into a week and even the nicest person can turn into a cornered grizzly bear. Imagine missing out on quality sleep for months, perhaps even years (if your little one is not the greatest sleeper). For people who aren’t going through a depressive episode this would be challenging emotionally, but for a mother going through PPD it can seem impossible to live with.
Depression is an extremely vulnerable emotional state. Women going through PPD often struggle with feelings of guilt, low self confidence, inadequacy, loneliness, sadness and a feeling of being trapped. These emotions are very difficult to work through on a full night’s sleep. Unfortunately the nature of motherhood and parenthood involves chronic sleep deprivation for a time. This can exaggerate the negative feelings a mother may experience and can heighten and add to an already tense situation. Sadness can turn into despair and a feeling of being trapped can turn into paranoia and controlling emotions like anger and frustration seems unattainable in the moment. For some mothers there is no solution. No help at night and no end to the sleep situation your little one experiences. However, if it is possible, a mom with PPD should get as much help as they need. It is vital that a family’s home situation be one of openness and honesty. She needs to be able to communicate her feelings and struggles in a frank and candid manner.
Sleep When the Baby Sleeps
A common piece of advice passed onto mothers is to sleep when the baby sleeps. On paper, this sounds like a fantastic idea, but putting this into practice can be hard. I remember struggling to fall asleep during the day. It would take me thirty minutes of tossing and turning to finally surrender, only to have my little guy wake up minutes later. I felt groggy, grumpy and basically worse than before my nap. To complicate matters further I developed insomnia at night. The need for sleep became so desperate that it was almost impossible to achieve. There is no worse feeling than knowing that your baby is going to wake up in 45 minutes and for some unforeseen reason you can’t sleep. My husband and I had a running joke at night. We would say ‘see you in ten minutes’ as our heads hit the pillow because we knew our son would be up in no time. Let’s just say that joke got old pretty quick.
There would be times when I was tired, but I would opt to stay awake during the day. Perhaps not wise, but sleeping each and every time your baby is asleep can leave a mom feeling like she has no life outside baby. At times a good conversation with a friend or watching an episode of your favourite television show can be just as, if not more, rejuvenating than a nap. A feeling of being trapped in your new life as a parent is very common, so try to find time to enjoy pieces of your old life. Even if it’s just a cup of coffee or the latest episode of Walking Dead.
While everything I just said is often true, attempting to sleep when the baby sleeps is wise. There will be times you don’t feel like it or you simply can’t, but don’t stress about it. Just catch as much rest as you can on your terms.
While the sleepless nights feel like are going to go on forever remember, one day when they are teenagers you’ll need a bucket of cold water to get them out of bed.
Sleep well (ish)… if you can.