The Insanity of Sleep Deprivation

the insanity of sleep deprivation 2

I think it is fair to say I never truly knew what sleep deprivation was until I had my second child – my daughter. My daughter arrived into this this world shouting and if the last 15 months have taught us anything, it is that she has a pretty amazing set of lungs and a force of will the likes of which I have never seen before.

It pretty much started as soon as I realised I was pregnant. For both of my pregnancies I have suffered with pregnancy insomnia. But it didn’t manifest until later in my pregnancy with my son. With my daughter I think it started when I was about 7 weeks. It seemed to be my body’s way of trying to prepare me for what was to come.

You see, Aria doesn’t seem to like sleep that much. Her first few weeks and even months in this world were rather fraught, not her fault. What we initially believed to be colic turned out to be silent reflux and milk allergy. Between my husband and I we would spend hours pacing and rocking trying to desperately get her to sleep. When paternity leave came to an end and my husband’s return to work the night duties mostly moved over to me and sleep deprivation began to possess me truly.

At the worst of it, I was averaging 3 hours per night, by this point Aria would settle for no one else other than me and would often want to nurse all the time to ease the pain of her reflux. If you have ever survived on 3 hours per night for any length of time I can tell you that it starts to turn you loopy.

First off is the physical symptoms – headaches and I regularly get nausea when I am tired. Then it starts to affect your memory. I would be talking and forget words, couldn’t remember people’s names. I would lose time. I would sit down to nurse my daughter and during this time I would often put some tv on for my son to watch or set up some toys for him to play with. I would never remember actually falling asleep but it would seem like I would blink and my son had moved or the TV show had moved on to a different scene, it would seem sometimes like I was watching things from a distance. There were days when I cancelled plans and refused to drive, not believing myself safe to get behind the wheel. There were days when I would cry because I was just so physically exhausted. Then my least favourite symptom the irritability and short tempered-ness. I hate it when I am crabby. Sleep deprivation can unfortunately turn me into a bit of a harpy it would seem.

Sleep when they say sleep people would say. Not possible when you have an older child who no longer naps in the day. There were several days when I would finally get my daughter down at around 3/4am and then my son would bound in at around 6/7am ready to start the day. With no family close-by and my husband at work I pretty much had to get on with it, even when all I wanted to do was curl-up in a ball and hide away from the world.

There were times when I wondered if I had postnatal depression. But as my daughter began to sleep more – she still doesn’t go through the night, but I can cope with on average of one wake-up a night – I realised it was the lack of sleep that was robbing me of my sanity.

Things has been a lot calmer of late, but the last week my daughter has been both poorly and teething I am 4 nights of 3/4 hours per night and I can feel the delirium kicking back in. I think I had forgotten just how awful it makes you feel.

I am writing this I guess to get it off my chest as you just how hard it is. But also to say to any parents about to become second time parents that it will be ok too. I haven’t got the option of napping in the day or going to bed that early some nights, because I often work evenings, but I will say that as a parent you often find an inner strength you never knew that you had. This week I have been shattered and yes I have had to keep a lid on my inner harpy, but I’m getting through it. My children and I are surviving it and it’s also part of the crazy parenthood train. And when I feel like my brain might just implode, I might start hitting my head repeatedly against the wall or fall asleep mid sentence I thank the lord for our Disney DVD collection, sofa cuddles and caffeine.

A Cornish Mum

Domestic Momster

17 thoughts on “The Insanity of Sleep Deprivation”

  1. What can I say Laura it will get better, I know you have had really bad week. I wish I was a bit nearer I could take Logan for you. I know that zombie feeling.

  2. Oh Hun, this is the post I almost wrote last night! We are in a v similar boat. Baby #2 in our house isn’t a sleeper at all. We didn’t realise how lucky we were first time around. Thank God for caffeine, and 7pm bedtimes. One day we’ll be dragging them out of bed 🙂 one day! x MMT

    • I had no idea how lucky I was with my son he was such an amazing sleeper! Yes there will be a time when they will sleep until midday and I will despair for different reasons ha ha! I hope you start to get some more sleep too x

  3. Sleep deprivation is awful isn’t it – I remember having huge struggles with it when Sophie was a baby and didn’t settle well. I still vividly remember one night when she was awake from 11pm until 7am and then Jessica woke for the day at 7.15am. Awful. The crankiness and the delirium that comes with sleep-deprivation is so hard to cope with – I used to describe it as feeling like I’d been hit by the tired truck. Hope that this week will be better and you get some more sleep again x

    • Things have been better thanks Louise, yes I think sleep deprivation is one of the absolute hardest things and you actually want to cry when you get one to sleep and the other wakes.

  4. Huge massive hugs. Like other people have said it will get easier I promise. It sounds like you are such a strong woman, so you will get through it. Just don’t try and push yourself or put yourself under too much pressure, it will only make the feelings worse. Stay strong lovely.


    Gemma xxx

  5. I can’t even imagine how difficult all that is for you! I’m thankful that my daughter sleeps well. She was your typical sleeper as a newborn– waking 2 or 3 times at night. I was exhausted just doing that, so I’m so sympathetic for you. Hang in there, mommy. You’re doing an amazing job and things will get better! #positivelyposted

  6. I really feel your pain with this – I only have one- but we struggled with colic and reflux for a long long time when he was new – having to wind him/keep him upright for an hour after every feed even at night (and when he was feeding every 1.5-2 hrs this meant no sleep). Even after the reflux got better at 6 months after we started weaning we still have a baby that doesn’t want or seem to need sleep. 8.5 months down the line and he’s never slept through. We now co-sleep for the last half of the night just to try and get some sleep!

    • At 16 months on Sunday my daughter still doesn’t sleep through either, but it is better than how it was a couple of weeks ago now thankfully. I hope Arthur sleeps through soon x

  7. Oh sweetheart I so hope you are getting some decent sleep again now? I was lucky with both of my 2 they slept through and had lie ins from just a couple months old (sorry) but with Fin’s type 1 I’ve had more sleepless nights in the last 6 years than I ever had with either baby so I can understand just how drained it can make you feel.
    Thanks for linking up to #Picknmix
    Stevie x x

    • My first was like that – slept through like a dream – tricked me into a false sense of security and I can only imagine what it must be like to have a son with diabetes and the worry that must have caused you x

  8. I became so sleep deprived with Sylvia that it really affected us and sadly we spent a few weeks apart so that I could recover. It was awful! It is really hard work being a mum and when you don’t get to sleep it can make things ten times worse! A great post their Laura! Thanks for linking up to #PositivelyPosted

    Angela xx

    • Oh my goodness that is awful 🙁 there were days I actually do not know how I got through it with Aria – but I did and things are much better than they were – thanks Angela x

  9. I have never been a good sleeper…even before children. Although I really took it for granted when I could sleep all day and never did. Now of course I wish I could just sleep through the night without help from wine or ambien…both of which sometimes still don’t work and all my kids sleep through the night now. I just tell myself that I will sleep when I am dead. Thanks for linking up with #momsterslink.


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