Saturday, September 21, 2013

How does lack of sleep affect you? How do you deal with it?

I've been told, with amazement, by several people that I seem to function well on little sleep.

Quartus goes to bed at about 9pm.  A couple hours later, he wakes up and I bring him to bed with us. Then he nurses for the rest of the night, waking me to flip him over to the other side.  During the day, he doesn't nap.  Rather, he dozes for 30 minutes at a time, usually in the car.

Tertius gave up naps when he was around a year old.  About that same time, he went through a year long phase of not going to bed until 11pm or midnight.

Primus didn't learn to fall asleep on her own in her own bed until she was 18 months old.  And then she would still wake up and come sleep in or next to our bed everynight until a couple years ago.

Secundus is my only good sleeper.  She was putting herself to sleep and sleeping through the night by 2 months.

Add to all that the fact that I am a night-owl and prefer to stay up past midnight.  But my children do not share this trait and no matter how late they go to bed, they are always awake around 7am.  I don't think our situation is terribly unique, but suffice it to say that I've had more nights of limited/disturbed sleep than good/long/refreshing sleep in the last 7 years.  So how do I survive?

Well, I may just be used to it by now.  But I think a better explanation is that I definitely act differently in public than I do in private.  (And "public" includes Facebook.)

I'm an extrovert.  When I am out and around people, I get energized so it seems like I've got it all together.  But if you were to have seen me at home before stepping out the door, you would have had something entirely different to say!  

Sadly, when I'm home with just my family, I'm not always the most chipper person.  If I'm tired, the kids usually get the worst brunt of my crankiness. 

Also, since I am so go-go-go all day, if I sit down to nurse Quartus in the rocking chair around 3pm, I will definitely fall asleep.  If I let myself relax for even a minute, it all finally catches up with me.  And sleeping upright in a rocking chair is not comfortable!  So when I wake up, I am still tired, sore, and more cranky!  When Tertius was a baby, I remember that every time I sat down to read stories to the girls during the day, I would doze off.  It was so hard to stay awake to even get through one book! 

Things that work for me to make the tiredness and crankiness not as bad...

1. Don't relax. Don't get comfortable.  Whoever first started spewing that, "nap when the baby naps" garbage is an idiot.  I mostly kid, but see paragraph above.  If I get a cat-nap during the day, I will usually regret it.  Not only do I feel tired, sore, and cranky, but I get overwhelmed by all the stuff I should have been doing while I was napping (see number 4 below.)

2. Go to bed by 10pm.  I still need my personal time in the evenings when the house is quiet.  But 10pm is so much better than midnight for my sanity the next day.

3. Wake up before the kids.  I know, seems counterproductive.  But if my sleep is disturbed abruptly by the kids, then it doesn't matter how many extra minutes I was able to squeeze in; I'm going to be super cranky!  My day goes a lot smoother if I can wake up on my terms, wake up slowly, and read scriptures in the quiet time before everyone else is awake.

4. Don't let messes around the house get too out-of-hand.  I need to keep me and the kids on top of things all day so I'm not left with a disaster zone at the end of the day.  When the house is in chaos and I'm tired, I tend to explode because I feel overwhelmed. It's not pretty.

5. Rely on Hubby.  He tends to be blind to messes so I just need to remember to tell him, "Look at that mountain of dishes [puzzles, action figures, dirty table, etc].  That right there is driving me crazy.  Will you kindly help the kids take care of it before I start chucking things out the window?!"  If I ask for his help, he always obliges. 

So how does lack of sleep affect you?  How do you combat it?

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