Thursday, June 7, 2012

Parenting and Sleep Deprivation

Someone said to me recently that with the last 13.5 years filled with pregnancies and extended co-sleeping breastfeeding that I have been basically been tortured with sleep deprivation.  Well, I thought that was a bit extreme so went googling as you do.  :-)

This article, published recently, did a study on sleep deprived new parents.  In the conclusions the researchers say that they found that the executive functions of the brains of sleep deprived parents (ie less than 6 hours of sleep per night and no day time napping) was impaired compared the new parents who were getting more than 7 hours of sleep a day.

"Executive function is an umbrella term for cognitive processes such as planning, working memory, attention, problem solving, verbal reasoning, inhibition, mental flexibility, multi-tasking, initiation and monitoring of actions.Wikipedia

So maybe she was right in a way.  I have been tortured, thinking myself a failure when I couldn't think very well.

I have been full on mothering for a long time.  First pregnancy, breastfeeding one while pregnant with second, then breastfeeding two, then breastfeeding one, then breastfeeding one while pregnant with third, breastfeeding two, breastfeeding two while pregnant with fourth, then very quickly breastfeeding one while pregnant with fourth, then breastfeeding two and finally now over 40 and only breastfeeding one.  And all that time I have co-slept a variety of children.

With all that drain on my body and brain it is no wonder I don't function so well some days and haven't done for a very long time.  I look forward to being able to function better soon when this last one weans over the next 3-4 months.

Mentally I have decided to be more forgiving of myself too.  I have been doing something that I really consider to be very important, growing and feeding babies.  It was for a season and things will change soon to allow me to do the things I have wanted to do but I have had Mummy Brain and it is ok.

Best wishes

PS Don't forget to read the comments, Rebecca had an awesome one. 


  1. Replies
    1. I am of the firm opinion that sleep deprivation is natures way to make sure we do not have the energy to even think about running away from home, let alone actually doing it. From one breastfeeding, co-sleeping, homeschooling mum of 4 to another!

  2. Absolutely! Simple Living Rebecca is simply right. It is for a season. Tip: get lots of sleep when this bub weans, I found those restful years didn't last long before the "having to get up to the toilet" season began. Life is just grand!

  3. Jen, it wasn't until the youngest child turned three that I found the fog lifting - of course then I got pregnant again - twice! But seriously, the difference in brain power, the possibilities for clear thinking, planning, organisation, and the energy levels are just monumentally different now that the youngest is seven. But all those years of brain fog weren't wasted. Now I have my intellect back, but also the strength, patience, kindness and humility that parenting has given me (well, most of the time!). Chin up, and don't expect too much of yourself. Your job now is just to survive, and smile sometimes!

    1. Thank you all for your support. So glad to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

      Just trying to get through the "baby" just having had his 4 year vaccinations. Not much sleep for about a week!

      Best wishes

  4. Hi Jen,
    I am definitely in Mummy Brain mode at the moment. Breastfeeding one and then having visits in the night from another one, it is a common sight having 4 in the bed. I am enjoying the season though. The great thing about this being the sixth time around is that I realise that it is a season that goes so fast and so I try to cherish it.


Thank you for visiting. I would love to hear from you and tend to reply in the comments. It is nice to just have a chat some times.

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