how has long-term sleep deprivation changed you? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-27-2010, 04:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by newbymom05 View Post
Another sleep-deprived SAHM here. My boys are 5 and 2. My 2 y/o is still b'feeding and cosleeping. I basically haven't had a good night's sleep in 5 years. 2 y/o molars are coming in--not conducive to sleep.

DS1 was actually a worse sleeper, and after a couple of months of no sleep I I had months of panic attacks and anxiety, but on the plus side, I lost a ton of weight! With DS2 I'm just extremely short-tempered, which stinks. And dumber, definitely dumber. Seriously, I always considered myself to be pretty intelligent and I'm convinced I've lost at least 15 IQ points due to sleep deprivation. My blood sugar levels are terrible too.

My DS1 was a really crummy sleeper until 4. Now he's MUCH better and finally STTN. That means I have 2 years left w/ DS2.

While I think b'feeding, esp extended b'feeding, def is sleep disruptive, I think those hormones are the only thing keeping me from going postal. So unless I was gifted w/ a great sleeper, I'd go down this same path again, exhausting though it is.
Wow, I could've written your post. 5 year old DD (my really poor sleeper) is finally sleeping regularly through the night, but whew those years were awful. I had quite a few nervous breakdowns and lost weight too. DS started off sleeping well as an infant, but as soon as the teeth started coming in, it gradually got worse and worse until now at almost 2 years, he wakes every 2 hours demanding boob.

The last 5 years of sleep deprivation have of course taken its toll, and I don't like the person I have become -- Continually grumpy, unable to focus, on the edge of flipping out, worried about getting fired for poor job performance. But I don't see an easy way out of this b/c DS is so boob-crazy and as silly as it sounds, I am too tired to make a change. So I guess I will continue to be a crabby person for another 3 years...

Christine, Perpetually Sleep-Deprived Mama to Sylvia (01/2005) and Stefan (07/2008)
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Old 06-27-2010, 05:19 PM
 
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Did anyone else's frequent waking baby turn them into an insomniac? I really struggle to fall asleep now. It's 4:30 am and I've slept maybe 45 mins. The baby is sleeping right now, just put her back down. She's been doing 2 hours stretches tonight. And I've been doing none. It seems harder and harder to sleep.
I can't remember where I read this--NYT maybe?--but it was about a study that said the biggest predictor of sleep problems was being a mother. Not a parent--a mother--and that was regardless of the age of the mother or the child/ren. Being a mother permanently altered women's ability to maintain restful sleep. Is that depressing or what?

But re: your insomnia, I don't know, for me personally, I have a hard time falling asleep b/c I'm sure my 2 y/o will wake me up as soon as I fall asleep. It's sick, but I'll stay up late at night even though I'm exhausted, just because I *know* as soon as I get into the bed and fall asleep, he'll wake me up demanding to nurse. IMO that's actually worse than being awake and tired--being asleep and being woken up too soon. Same for napping during the day--I'll just lie there thinking, "He's going to wake up! I have to fall asleep RIGHT NOW because he's going to wake up!!! Fall asleep NOW!!"

I know from my oldest that it will get better, but it's definitely hard, especially when you don't get a break.
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Old 06-27-2010, 08:23 PM
 
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yes i am an 'insomniac'. i may sleep 8 hours maybe once or twice a month. the rest of the time i sleep 4 to 5 hours. however i am not tired, and it does not affect my life. i had a high needs baby.

i wake up at least twice a night even though dd has been STTN for the past 5 years.

but its also because i discovered how much i enjoy the nights. i have been a night owl. but i have early days so fall asleep by 10 pm. i enjoy the quietness of the night and if i do anything i find i get A LOT done with no distractions. it helps being a single mom.

i lived on v. v. v. little sleep during infancy. i HAD to make time for myself as my marriage was breaking up and i was an emotional mess. so when dd slept the longest - 2 hours - i watched movies with her sleeping on me with no sound and subtitles on. its what kept my sanity.

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Old 06-27-2010, 08:43 PM
 
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During those 14 mos of sleep deprivation, my A-type personality slid away and was replaced by someone far more pleasant. I became more open minded and less competitive. I'm not a perfectionist anymore. I am entirely focused on being a good mum (in a laid-back go with the flow kind of way) because everything else has fallen away. Had I seen this coming before DS was born, I would have been horrified and maybe even a bit ashamed. But I am so much happier now and I feel like for the first time in my life I really know what is important in life. Life is simple. I'm a better person to my family and to my community and I have a period of sleep deprivation to thank for it!
My experience was similar. Thanks for writing that

DD wasn't nightweaned & DS wont be either. She stopped by herself eventually and I'm sure he will too.

grateful Mama to DD May '06 and DS May '09
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:06 AM
 
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Wow, this is a great thread.

I'm exhausted. I have been since Jan. 14, 2010 the night my DD was born. LOL
No kidding. She's been doing great about sleeping but I haven't had a non-broken nights sleep since her birth.

I am SO glad to read the other women have the "brain fog" and the difficulty to keep up with adult convo.. I just thought I was losing my mind! And snappish...oh yes. Poor DH!

I am a WAHM btw. I started back to work 2 weeks after DD was born. One of the biggest mistakes of my life. I really wish I had taken the FLMA.

Treehuggin Mom of a beautiful little girl and Wife to a superhero husband.
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Old 06-28-2010, 03:38 PM
 
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I'm past it all now (kids are 7 and 10) but those days and nights are seared into my memory as perhaps the most nightmarish period of my life.

Sahm. How sleep deprivation changed me? I was grumpier, quicker to snap at those I loved, generally unmotivated, and frequently despairing. I couldn't imagine ever wanting sex again, which was awfully depressing. I cursed a lot (very out of character for me) and found myself so lulled by driving that I'd think about how easy it would be to drift into oncoming traffic. Sure, I'd be dead. But I wouldn't be tired anymore.

It is truly amazing how all of that disappeared when my kids started sleeping.
This explains *exactly* how I currently feel. I was just driving this morning and was imagining drifting into traffic because I was so tired. I have a DS who will soon be four and a 15 month old. I haven't slept through the night in almost 4 years. There was a brief period during the first two months of my DD's life where she slept these wonderful 4-6 hour stretches. I felt absolutely great. But, on most nights I'm woken up at least once an hour. My oldest has autism and has never slept well. He's almost four and is still not sleeping through the night. I actually dread going to bed because I know that as soon as I drift off to sleep one of the kids will wake me up. I've turned into this mean, swearing, monster of a mother. I have zero short-term memory, I can't form the most basic of sentences much of the time, I yell, I cry, I'm absolutely over-whelmed by the smallest things. No sex drive to speak of. I get sick easier. I don't even recognize myself anymore. . The very very rare night that I do get sleep I feel excellent the next day. I feel like I'm a good, patient and fun mom. I'm a SAHM...I can't even imagine trying to work out of the home with my current mental state.
I set up a crib mattress next to our mattress in the hopes that my youngest will start sleeping there and by being further away from me she'll sleep for longer stretches. No such luck yet, but I'm remaining hopeful that one day I'll wake up surprised that she slept for a 3-4 hour stretch.

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Old 06-29-2010, 05:02 PM
 
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This really is a great thread. I echo what so many others have said...sleep deprivation has made me cranky, quick to anger, no short term memory, have a hard time forming sentences and chosing the correct words, no ability to concentrate, zero energy...I'm surprised I still have a job. Oh, lack of sleep has also made it hard for me to sleep! I've had sleep issues in the past, but this is ridiculous. A pp mentioned this'll just lie there thinking, "He's going to wake up! I have to fall asleep RIGHT NOW because he's going to wake up!!! Fall asleep NOW!!" That's pretty much exactly how I felt for months and I'm just now getting over it!

I actually think I'm over the hump of exhaustion. My 13-month has been sleeping regularly 4-6 hours stretches, sometimes even longer, for about a month. I feel so much better--I've been able to exercise more (which was the ONE thing I was most bitter about--choosing to get my sleep hours up to maybe 4, or staying up late/waking early to get a workout in). Work is starting to improve, slowly, slowly. I still have a really hard time chosing the correct words when I'm speaking, which is frustrating. Surprisingly, I remained relatively healthy, though I'm on week 4 of a cold that just won't go away--definitely the result of not enough sleep and not enough exercise catching up to me. Hopefully, this last year of challenge has helped me become a better person in some way...
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Old 06-29-2010, 05:30 PM
 
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I coslept with my DD from day 1 and exclusively bf. I was petrified of hearing her cry so whenever she stired or whimpered, I put her to the boob. I thought that I was supposed to do that...So she got used to insta-boob all the time. Needless to say that I nursed every 2 hours for the longest time.

I'm glad to say that there haven't been any permanent changes due to long-term sleep deprivation. While I was in the thick of it I was
Utterly depressed
Highly emotional
Forgetful
Very skinny
Resentful/angry (ok so being married to an alcoholic didn't help)
Completely without energy

When I went back to work, DD was 10 months so we reverse-cycled and I pumped a bit. DD started sleeping in longer stretches around 14-15 months of age, but still woke up 2-4 times a night to nurse and also wanted to nurse upon waking. I had been WOH FT for several months by then and it was really taking its toll on my performance at work.

I finally nightweaned DD completely at around 20 months, because I was losing my mind. It took some time but DD eventually stopped waking for the breast. There were a lot of tearful nights and difficult mornings, but we made it through. It's been 3 months and she now only wakes up or stirs if she has a nightmare. She goes down at 8:30 and wakes up at 6:30.

Since then, I've gotten a lot more energy, I have gained back a bit of weight, I've gotten my sense of humour back, and I've started being able to exercise again. I'm also able to nap with DD on week-ends without a problem whereas before my sleep cycle was completely wrecked.
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Old 06-29-2010, 06:43 PM
 
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sarah1122 - that's something I've come to embrace, too. I still get frustrated, but the fact is, most of my life had swung way too far the other way. For me, it was about striving to do too much, having ridiculously huge expectations, and it was eating me away. The artistic side, the sides you talk about, had all atrophied. Yes, I feel "stupid." But other people don't necessarily perceive me as stupid (or they are kind enough not to say so ). But there are many wonderful things in my life now because of my little one.
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Old 06-30-2010, 05:44 PM
 
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This explains *exactly* how I currently feel. I was just driving this morning and was imagining drifting into traffic because I was so tired. I have a DS who will soon be four and a 15 month old. I haven't slept through the night in almost 4 years. There was a brief period during the first two months of my DD's life where she slept these wonderful 4-6 hour stretches. I felt absolutely great. But, on most nights I'm woken up at least once an hour. My oldest has autism and has never slept well. He's almost four and is still not sleeping through the night. I actually dread going to bed because I know that as soon as I drift off to sleep one of the kids will wake me up. I've turned into this mean, swearing, monster of a mother. I have zero short-term memory, I can't form the most basic of sentences much of the time, I yell, I cry, I'm absolutely over-whelmed by the smallest things. No sex drive to speak of. I get sick easier. I don't even recognize myself anymore. . The very very rare night that I do get sleep I feel excellent the next day. I feel like I'm a good, patient and fun mom. I'm a SAHM...I can't even imagine trying to work out of the home with my current mental state.
I set up a crib mattress next to our mattress in the hopes that my youngest will start sleeping there and by being further away from me she'll sleep for longer stretches. No such luck yet, but I'm remaining hopeful that one day I'll wake up surprised that she slept for a 3-4 hour stretch.
I just had to update my post---last night I got an uninterrupted stretch of five hours of sleep . And I feel AMAZING today. I've got energy, I'm patient, the kids and I are having a great day. So, even with four years of sleep deprivation under my belt, just one night of good sleep makes a world of difference. So, I'm not ruined forever by lack of sleep

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Old 06-30-2010, 06:54 PM
 
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The first year was hell, sleep deprivation felt very much like PPD for me, but since I felt better any time I got some sleep, I knew I wasn't depressed. The second year was one of gradual improvement as DD slept more and more (and finally napped).

Now, half way through the third year, I feel like my brain and memory came back and I feel mostly normal again. Although I still make stupid typos and have lots of brain farts.

But I have no tolerance for a bad nights' sleep. I need sleep still or I suffer. So my sleep stores have not yet been replenished.

V

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Old 07-01-2010, 06:58 PM
 
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Only skimmed a few replies but have a different perspective.

I went back to WOH FT 6 weeks PP...became a single mom at 4.5 months then had a surprise pregnancy at 8 months. DS is 15 months now and still rarely sleeps longer than 3 hours before waking for a bottle/diaper change/cuddle/whatever. Him STTN before the new baby gets here is not looking likely and I expected that a while ago since he's always been a crappy sleeper. So I went through those phases of being absolutely miserable and mad at the world because I wasn't getting a decent night's rest and can definitely sympathize.

What really helped me though was reading somewhere that "no one on this earth is entitled to a full night's sleep". It really put it in perspective for me that an uninterrupted 8 hours of sleep truly is a luxury and not a basic human right. Once I digested that fact, I was much more at peace with not getting enough sleep.
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Old 07-02-2010, 02:36 AM
 
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I totally am where you are at. Working 2 days a week and she wakes at least 4 times a night and at the moment won't go to bed before 8:30pm. So I am wacked. But after repeated viruses I saw a naturopath and the supplements have definitely helped. I also have Saturday mornings to myself while DH takes her to swimming. That extra rest and a nap one afternoon in the weekend is what keeps me going.
The hardest thing for me is that I really wanted a big family but I just don't know how I could manage another child and more years of being this tired.

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Old 07-02-2010, 11:34 AM
 
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My daughter will be 2 on Monday and she's just started somewhat reliably sleeping through the night. We night weaned at about 21-22 months and DH became her night time parent. This helped a TON. She also doesn't sleep with us anymore, again, this is the only way to keep her asleep. She used to be awake at least once a week from 1-4am and up for the day around 4 or 5. She also doesn't nap well and never did. She usually needs help transitioning between sleep cycles at nap, so I get 35 minutes, hold her for 15 and sometimes get to put her back down for 20.

I was miserable, always angry, depressed, etc... Now, I'm 25 weeks pregnant and STILL not sleeping well because I'm uncomfortable and all those emotions are still there. I feel so bad for my DH because all my patience is used up for my dd and many days, I'm just DONE. I'm terrified that #2 will have the same crappy sleep patterns as her big sister.
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Old 07-08-2010, 06:36 PM
 
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I just want to say thank you, you have spoken from my own heart when I have felt so alone and inadequate. I can't wait to get some sleep. It's going on 4 years for me.

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Originally Posted by Tellera View Post
I WOH. I have a 4 1/2 year old who was up 3 - 4 times a night until bout a year. I went back to work at 3 months.

I swore I would never have another child because the chronic sleep deprivation. I was sad all the time, incredibly quick to anger, and had panic attacks about losing my job because I was obviously not meeting expectations. And I caught every cold that came around.

Things got a lot better a few months after I startd getting full nights of sleep. When I was consistently sleeping 8 hours for about six months, things became SO much easier.

And now I have a 4 month old. And I cry a lot. And, again, I am sad, very quick to anger, and get sick all the time. And I worry more about losing my job.

I make it through each day and each night because I do know that at some point in the future I WILL sleep again. That is actually the difference this time around - I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel somewhere.

But this is it. We are done.
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Old 07-21-2010, 01:50 PM
 
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I had to check back in on this post, and I feel so much gratitude to everyone who wrote in! It makes me feel so much better seeing that so many people have had similar experiences. I had a period of such exhaustion that when people would say to me, 'you should really get some sleep!' (as if it was something I was choosing!) my eyes would practically cross in my head and I wanted to scream at them!!

DD is now 11 months old and I have seen a drastic improvement in her sleep in just 2 weeks. And I mean, now she will only stir about every 2 hours (as opposed to every 30-90 min) - and that feels like HEAVEN in comparison. The other night she was cutting a new tooth and was awake and uncomfortable from about 10pm-1am, but then when she fell asleep she slept for 5 HOURS without stirring. This has never, ever happened, and of course I woke up in a complete and total panic, lol. But, truly, it is amazing how much better I felt the next day, and in general how much my overall outlook on life has improved. (Not to mention my ability to articulate a full sentence!) I am usually a pretty peppy, optimistic person and it has been really hard to feel like I have to struggle to see the good side of things/people.

I also fully agree with the posters who said it has been a life lesson in just taking everything down a notch. 5-6 weeks ago I was really hitting a wall and I decided not to worry about doing anything at all besides taking care of the baby, cooking healthy food for the family, and being nice to myself (ie if I had enough energy I would take a run or exercise, just do something small that I enjoyed). If I could fit in something like the dishes or laundry, then great, but otherwise I just let it go. And that was HUUUUGE for my type-a, control-freak self to come to terms with.

Last night DD had a rough night with a tooth again but it was SOOOO much easier to be compassionate and kind (the kind of mama she deserves) in the wee hours when I had to be out of bed, bouncing her on a ball to get her back to sleep for 2 hours, as compared to when I was exhausted and had all sorts of black thoughts stewing in my head as I bounced!

So, to the mamas who are still tired - just be as nice to yourself as possible. Hang in there!!
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