First pregnancy announcements are so much fun. Floating on the feathery knowledge that you’re going to be a mom and itching to put on some maternity clothing, it’s absolutely thrillingto finally share your news with the world. I remember the meaningful looks and comments, though, that clearly told me my hours of sleep were numbered… You remember those? “Oooooohhh! Congratulations! Enjoy the sleep while it lasts!”
And for some reason, it’s something so many new moms (or moms-to-be) just take in stride, as a part of normal life.
Maybe it’s because of the horror stories from their friends, maybe it’s because they remember their childhood nighttime visits to Mommy for a cuddle, maybe it’s because we as a society have glamorized sleeplessness, or maybe it’s a mixture of everything. All I know, though, is many new moms out there believe that good mommy = no sleep.
So let’s talk a little bit about sleep. Despite the progress that sleep science has made in the last 70 years or so, there’s still a lot that we dont know about sleep. That being said, there is one thing we do know for sure: Sleep is vital. It’s vital for our alertness, for our body systems’ regulation, for our mood, for our self-control and for our health.
In 1964, Randy Gardner did an experiment in which he attempted to go 11 days without sleep. Leading sleep scientist Dr. William Dement joined him to help him meet his goal and to document his observations of the effects of sleep deprivation. While Gardner did manage to go 11 days and 24 minutes without “going to sleep” Dr. Dement said that Gardner experienced “microsleeps,” a period of timethat can last as little as 3-10 seconds in which the brain effectively goes to sleep.Dr. Dement also noted the severe deterioration in Gardner’s mood and mental abilitiesas time wore on, including episodesof paranoia and hallucinations.
Sleep experiments performed on rats showed decreased body temperature, weight loss, lowered level of immunity and eventual death in animals that were sleep-deprived. In some areas in the world, they use sleep deprivation as a torture method, from which victims often die as their bodies shut down.
So why do we, the civilized moms of the western world, accept No Sleep as an answer? Why do we think that to be a good mom, we must for some reason sacrifice this all-important and vital aspect of our health?
And the truth is, as I found out the hard way, that No Sleep = Irritable, Impatient, Easily-Frustrated, Mommy, without the joy or attention we all want to give our kids. Sleeplessness does not make you Supermommy; giving your child the routine and sleep he or she needs makes you Supermommy.
So let’s start from scratch: Good Sleep=Good Mommy!