The effects of sleep deprivation in a new mum

When LA was 2 weeks old, she would regularly sleep 6 hours straight overnight. By the time she was 2 months, she was sleeping 12-13 hours overnight. Wow, that wasn’t so bad, I thought – she’s sleep trained already! Woop, woop! I was advised by several mum friends to keep the number of hours of sleep I was getting to myself, or else expect to illicit some less than favourable emotions from sleep-deprived new mamas around me.

Cue 4 month sleep regression.Who told LA about this? Tell me?? Ever since she was around 3 months old (yea, apparently the 4 month old sleep regression is a gift that an be opened early…) it’s like she flipped a switch and decided a full night’s sleep was no longer something that she was into. She decided that perhaps life is far too exciting to remain unconscious for longer than 2-3 hours at a time, and as a result I found myself getting up 3 or 4 times per night for the first time since LA’s first week.

Back in the day when I was brave enough to risk a sleeping photo


Since that first regression, LA’s sleep patterns have basically remained the same, which means I’ve been getting by on 2-4 hour spurts of sleep for 4 months now (with the occasional longer stretch thrown in – thankfully such stretches are becoming more frequent now). From what I’ve read and heard, this is pretty normal and actually at the tame end of the scale so I’m not really complaining (and it’s actually not bad being woken up to cute baby cuddles), but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve disminished into a blurry haze of sleep deprivation.  I live in Japan, where the people have a reputation for getting by on little sleep – in fact I commonly hear from people around me that they are fine as long as they get 5 hours of sleep each night. I look at them like they are crazy (in an awestruck kind of a way). Call me soft but I just don’t do very well on that little sleep. So, I’m actually kind of in awe of myself right now – and the fact that I am still, for the most part, able to function like a normal human being :).

Anyway, now to the results of my observational study to determine the effects of sleep deprivation in a mama to a 7 month old (yes I am a geek, and was a psychology major). Sample size is small (me) so I can’t guarantee the  conclusiveness of my results, but I’m sure I can find some mamas out there who can relate to the following. We have to laugh and enjoy this time while we can – I hear it does pass eventually!

  1. Rudeness: I’m sorry! I don’t mean to be rude – it’s just that my brain forgot that I was talking to you, forgot to say hello/goodbye or didn’t even notice you were talking so just barged in and interrupted you. Oh and for reference my old flatmates had a running joke that I had a “10pm rule”. As soon as 10pm passed, they could expect ill-conceived, rude and kind of inappropriate comments to come out of my mouth…let’s change that to a 7am rule for now.
  2. Decrease in language abilities: It’s like someone took sandpaper to the sound bites that make their way from my brain out of my mouth to grind away the usual degree of suaveness you would expect from a 30 year old to the unsophisticated crassness of, say, an 8 year old (no offense to 8 year olds)? Also, mumbling occurs at a higher frequency. Oh, and not to mention what happens when I try to speak Japanese…
  3. Forgetfulness: And not just in a “oh yea that’s right, it just slipped my mind” kind of forgetfulness, but the type of forgetfulness in which I have absolutely no recollection of doing, saying or hearing something that I apparently did. Yesterday I put an egg on to boil for LA’s lunch. The pot was full of water and boiling away when I left it. I don’t know how long later it was that I found the pot, empty of water with an over-boiled egg complete with burn spot on the side (THROUGH the shell). And now, for the life of me, I can’t remember what I did with that egg. Did I eat it? Did I feed it to LA? Chances are I’ll find it when I go to crack the last egg in the tray into a muffin mix or something…
  4. Clumsiness: I feel SO SORRY for my kitchen-side neighbour who has to endure loud crashes from numerous dishes and pots being dropped every day. True story. Haven’t dropped LA yet though. Success!
  5. Hunger: Oh and junk food cravings akin to the potato chip sandwich cravings of my pregnancy days, which stretch my depleted self-discipline to it’s absolute limits (and beyond).
  6. Decreased inhibitions: Being overtired actually makes me braver and more outgoing…I tend to just go ahead and give things a go without thinking it through too much.
  7. Runaway train syndrome: Ok, so I couldn’t think of another title for this, but what I mean is, once I get really tired I find it hard to switch tracks and do something else. Like, if I’m doing housework, I get stuck on doing housework until the house is sparkling(ish). Or if I’m blogging, I get stuck on blogging…or watching TV or…you get what I mean. It’s weird. Like a runaway train …you can’t change its direction once its going.

So, I’m curious…can any mamas (or other sleep deprived beings) out there relate to any of these? What are some of your sleep-deprived behaviours?


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