Some of these tips for dealing with sleep deprivation might sound a little extreme and unprofessional. But look at it this way: if you don't go out for 20 minute cigarette breaks every bloody hour, or chat about your weekend at the effing canteen with Sharon for 45 minutes each morning, if you DO get to work on time, if you do more than what's expected of you, and you break your bloody back for the place you work, then yes, you do earn the right to rest for 5 minutes… so you can recharge and perform all the better.
Most adults get around 7 ½ – 9 hours sleep a night. Some people survive on 6 hours sleep a night, and that’s without kids, but most people would feel the effects of just 6 hours. When you’re a new parent, you’ll get around 30 minutes a night. Just kidding.. slightly.
Dad’s sleep and sleep deprivation
As a new parent, you’ll find there are nights when you get just a few hours sleep. Some nights, you might not get any sleep at all… as you trudge the landing with your little one cradled in your arms. As morning ascends, you're barely living. Yes, you can survive this (just), but there are trade-offs that come in the form of increased levels of stress and anxiety, a lack of focus on tasks, being short-tempered, difficulty remembering things and catching more colds and viruses. It’s not going to be easy. The best thing you can do is get as much sleep as you can, when you can.
If you’re not back at work yet, then it’s definitely worth trying to get some sleep during the day when your baby is asleep. This’ll help you when it comes to getting up in the middle of the night for feeds.
There’s no special secret to tackling sleep deprivation – you’ll just have to get used to operating on less sleep. This can make you feel as if you’re constantly hung-over and you can lose focus on everyday tasks.
Tried and tested tactics for tackling a lack of sleep
- Go for a walk whenever you can: even if it's just for 5 minutes, getting out and about is proven to dust away the cobwebs and give you a natural boost.
- Exercise at lunch time: if you can squeeze in any exercise, do so. If there's a gym near work, sign up and use it. If you use escalators on the way to work, then run up them. Even push-ups just before you shower in the morning or even is better than nothing.
- Drink plenty of water: this is an absolute no-brainer and so easy to do. Water is THE BEST energy drink in the world. And it's FREE.
- Eat healthier: Having a quick sugar-rush is very tempting, but a sugar-crash soon follows. Replace a Snickers with nuts and grapes. Grab a banana every morning and have it on-hand for when you get peckish before midday.
- Caffeine pick-me-ups: use these sparingly (if possible). There's no doubt that 'Coffee is King' but it's a drug, that leaves you craving more… and more. You only need coffee because you drink it.
- The commute: sleep on the train. When you're totally exhausted, you have to find the small windows of opportunities to catch 40 winks. If you have a train journey, use it wisely. You never know when you'll next get the opportunity to sleep.
- Shut eye: Hand over eyes, look down at a sheet of numbers with a pen in your hand, pretend you’re working, and close your eyes. When it get's really tough and you're eyes are heavy at your desk, print out a spreadsheet and place it on your desk in front of you. Pretend to look at it. Shield your brow so no one can see your eyes and sleep for 5 minutes.
- Sleep in the toilet.
Got any of your own little tips? We'd love to hear them!