We lovingly refer to our children as the Demon of the Desert and the Terror of the Pacific Northwest.
Even the pediatrician once referred to our baby as a terrorist.
Because sleep is sacred and they rarely let us have any.
I’ll spare you the very sleepy details, but to give you an idea, the majority of nights in the last three years I have woken up hourly. Many of those nights have been more like every 45 minutes. My brain still can’t comprehend that babies need to be taught how to sleep, when it is something that my body and brain absolutely crave.
I’m holding out hope that my baby ends up becoming a champ sleeper like her sister eventually did. The week before #2 joined us. Until then, I still have to go to work on an inhumane amount of sleep. And apparently I have to be nice there.
As obscene as it is to be at work with so little sleep, this second time around has been much easier on me than the first. I learned a lot about how to cope with it and have been taking better care of myself through this one. I know I’m not the only one trying to stay awake at work, so I compiled some of my tricks for surviving the days when your kids (or anything) have kept you up all night.
Don’t fill up on coffee or soda or energy drinks, get yourself some water! You may be tempted to jolt your system with that stuff, but you don’t want or need the crash that inevitably comes from them. The dehydration from them will make you even drowsier. Get a water bottle and refill it all day. I’ve been drinking 100oz. a day lately and I can tell that it’s helping.
Move your body
Go refill your water, take a walk at lunch, do some squats a few times throughout your day, impromptu office dance party–something to get your body moving. I’ve been putting my desk up in the standing station mode to keep me up and moving. Though I’m pretty sure I could sleep standing up, moving around keeps my brain active and alert.
Same principle as with the water: don’t eat crappy food. Eating candy all day is no bueno. Your body is already compromised by not getting enough rest, so you need to make sure you’re treating it as best as you can in other ways. I always eat breakfast and I’ve noticed that as I’ve added more protein and healthy fats to it, my blood sugar is stabilized (I have a thyroid issue I have to be aware of), my brain isn’t foggy, and I just feel better. Throughout the day I have snacks like veggies and hummus or cottage cheese and strawberries to keep my levels happy. Eating to provide the nutrition our bodies need is always good–especially when we’re underslept.
Talk to people
If you’re able to chat with your coworkers, do it! Obviously you have to work, but interacting with other humans gives me more energy. Laughing and having fun perk me right up! At the very least it’ll keep you from falling asleep at your desk.
Take a nap
Maybe you can’t go home early to sleep, but can you take a nap during lunch? My husband has spent many a lunch hour sleeping in his car. My fancy new nursing room at work has a very inviting recliner that I may have to take advantage of when it’s not being used. A short power nap can help you re-energize for the afternoon.
Music is good for the sleepy soul. If you’re able to listen to music at your workplace, turn on something upbeat and sing or tap along. One time I dated a guy who didn’t like music and I was so confused. I knew right then that we weren’t going to last because music is so inherent to who I am. Not only will music get you moving with even a little head nod, but it helps me feel like myself instead of a zombie. I dare you to sleep through “Bye, bye, bye.” It just won’t happen.
Get some sun
Even if it’s in the dead of winter, if the sun is outside, go be in it for a minute. Vitamin D provides an energy boost that parents desperately need. Plus, my outside lunch walks keep the post-food naps away.
Hopefully these simple suggestions help keep you from falling asleep at your desk on the days you’re struggling.
They’ll at least tide me over while I wait for my kids to be teenagers and wake them up at 5a.m. on the weekend!
**Note: Keep in mind that these are not meant to be a substitute for sleep! If you’re going several days in a row of no sleep, then you need to do something to get some. If you can, take a day off, keep your kids in childcare, and sleep a few hours. If you and your spouse need to come up with a new plan for who takes care of the kids during the night, have that conversation. Maybe look into a baby sleep consultant (fyi I’m currently in the process of hiring one and will let you know how it goes).
I’m confident in saying that after having my first child , the lack of sleep gave me depression. Some research shows that consistently getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night can trigger many health issues, including depression. Looking back I can see that and wish I’d talked to my doctor. Postpartum depression is serious. If you are chronically underslept or think you may be experiencing depression, please talk to your doctor and get some medical advice. My little blog is definitely not a substitute for seeking your physician’s help.