Written by Leslie Kennedy for BabyPost.com
Whoever coined the term "sleeping like a baby" clearly had no children. It is amazing how much being sleep deprived can affect one's ability to function. You assume it will be hard but you'll manage. In reality, often times managing would be an improvement. Here are some things sleep-deprived parents feel that they don't always share.
It may be like this for a long time
If parents who have late sleepers, constant wakers or early risers all banked on that day that their child went to bed at a reasonable hour and hoped they sleep through the night to a reasonable hour, they might be waiting a long time. Sometimes, kids just really like their sleep pattern. Some kids are just really bad sleepers.
You really do become less coherent
It's not that the words aren't there somewhere in your head. But it is not unusual during the worst days of sleep deprivation to be halfway through a sentence and entirely forget what you were talking about. It's also not unusual to forget the simplest words. "I needed bread so I went to the.....um.....what's that word again? You know, where you go to buy stuff?"
Even if you hate coffee, you will find an affinity for it
There are parents out there who survive sleep deprivation without coffee but they are few and far between. Even life-long coffee refusers suddenly learn its value. People who never set foot in their local coffee shop before kids will often end up being on a first name basis with the entire staff after kids. It happens.
You will be okay with having the same bedtime you had when you were four
Especially when you have a newborn and they're up constantly, what was once the perfect time for a dinner reservation becomes the perfect time for bed. For the first time in 30 years, an 8 p.m. bedtime will seem not only reasonable, but entirely necessary.
Also, the naps you remember hating as a child will become the best thing in the world.
You will be grumpy
There are parents out there who ride the wave of exhaustion better than others. But sleep deprivation is seriously a form of torture. You will very likely want to punch the next person who says "welcome to parenthood" when you say you're exhausted. And you will be entirely justified.
Not everyone gets used to it
Not only do people like to say "welcome to parenthood" but you will also and absolutely hear 'you get used to it.' No, you don't. Some people, do sure, but lots of sleep deprived parents go about their days as coffee-holding zombies desperate for that moment where head meets pillow.
You will pray for the day you have a teenager
You will of course regret this later because teenagers will exhaust you for other reasons. But sleep-deprived parents can't wait for the day they need to drag their child out of bed at noon.
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If you find yourself hungry all day (and not because you skipped breakfast or have recently amped up your gym routine) it might be because you've been skimping on sleep. Research presented at the 2010 meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior linked little shuteye with higher levels of the hormone ghrelin, the same one that triggers hunger, HuffPost reported. This uptick in the hunger hormone seems to lead to not only increased snacking, but also a hankering for high-carb, high-calorie foods, according to a 2004 study, which may help explain why people who don't get enough sleep are at a greater risk of obesity.
Ever find yourself tearing up over an embarrassing TV commercial? While women might be quick to blame PMS, it could be a lack of sleep sending your emotions into overdrive. A 2007 study found that sleep-deprived brains were 60 percent more reactive to negative and disturbing images, USA Today reported. "It's almost as though, without sleep, the brain had reverted back to more primitive patterns of activity, in that it was unable to put emotional experiences into context and produce controlled, appropriate responses," Matthew Walker, senior author of the study, said in a statement.
You might be tempted to blame your trouble focusing on your age or stress or your overflowing email inbox, but a lack of sleep could be the true culprit. Too few hours in dreamland has been linked to a whole host of cognitive problems, like difficulty focusing and paying attention, confusion, lower alertness and concentration, forgetfulness and trouble learning, WebMD reports. So next time you find yourself forgetting where you put your keys, consider how much sleep you got last night.
If you keep coming down with the sniffles -- or can't seem to kick that never-ending case -- you might want to assess your sleep schedule. A 2009 study found that people who sleep fewer than seven hours each night have almost three times the risk of catching a cold than people who slept for at least eight hours, the LA Times reported.
First you knock the alarm clock off the dresser, then you spill the milk as you're pouring your cereal, then you stub your toe on the way out the door -- you've become a klutz overnight. Researchers don't know exactly why, but sleepy people seem to "have slower and less precise motor skills," Clete Kushida, M.D., Ph.D., director of Stanford University Center for Human Sleep Research told Prevention. Reflexes are dulled, balance and depth perception can be a little wonky and since you may also have trouble focusing, reaction time can be slowed, meaning you can't quite catch the egg carton before it hits the floor.
If you or your partner just can't get in the mood, and stress or an underlying health problem isn't to blame, you might want to spend some extra time between the sheets -- sleeping. Both men and women who don't get their 40 winks experience a decreased sex drive and less interest in doing the deed, WebMD reports. A lack of sleep can also elevate levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, according to Everyday Health, which doesn't help in the bedroom either.
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