Andrea Loewen Nair: Connect-Four Parenting


Stay Safe: 7 Ways to Handle Sleep Deprivation

How to get through the day after the night before when kids were up.

As I drag myself off the floor where my three-year-old and five-year-old are happily playing, I am trying to summon motivation to help stop feeling sorry for my tired body that was kept up last night by a feverish child. Life has to go on today—no calling in sick here!

How many of you are nodding with me?

I am making this list to help myself today because I managed in the past to get through many sleepless nights, and the following sleepy days. I can do it! (She says without conviction) My goal today is to make it through intact and not let my tiredness turn me into an asshole.

I'm not sure if I'm completely crazy or what, but I actually have never had a cup of coffee in my life. Whether you are at work or at home, use any of these caffeine-free tips that suit you to help through your sleepy day:

1) Create a safe zone for the kids and then curl up near them for a power nap. When the kids were younger, I would barricade them in a small area and fall asleep on the floor beside them. Now I can sleep through a blaring TV or LEGO dismantling! Five to ten minutes of a power nap is all you need.

2) Stop telling yourself you are tired. Positive thinking will make a big difference; put on your glass-half-full goggles. There have been many studies which demonstrate humans can do just fine on even four hours of sleep if they need to. Remind yourself of this all day.

3) Don't sit around too much, and try to get outside. I find I am more tired when I am sitting. If I take the boys outside or to play somewhere else, I often forget how tired I am. But don't push yourself too hard for multiple days in a row. A day or two here or there of pushing yourself onto your feet will be okay. If this is a repeated pattern, you run the risk of harming your health.

4) Do something that will make you laugh because "laughing releases the same tension as tears." (Dr. Laura Markham) I do feel like crying... all day... so laughing is a much better option! My choices are usually: air guitar to my favourite songs, hanging with friends, watching a funny video. Have you watched America's Funniest Videos lately? Good stuff.

5) Do some yoga and/or meditation. Inversion poses are super for waking the body and mind. If I start to feel fuzzy, I do a sun-salutation series or meditate for a couple minutes.

6) Drink water with lemon if you have it, and eat real food. Junk food is only not bad for you, it often makes you sleepy.

7) Have a shower, do your hair, and wear nice clothes. For some reason I feel better when I'm not in a pony-tail and saggy-butt grey sweats pants.

I need to put my psychotherapist hat on and say that if sleepless nights are a chronic problem, seek professional help either through a trained child sleep expert (my go-girl there is Alanna McGinn) or a trained counsellor.