How your child’s lack of sleep (and by default, your own)affects your relationships and/or your marriage
Was there ever a time when you thought to yourself… “There is a reason why sleep deprivation is a torture tactic?”
The above comes to mind for many of the families that I work with when their child isn’t sleeping well. I am a children’s Sleep Consultant at Happy Baby Sleep Consulting and I find my families wondering this and more. Some parents are so worn-down that blame quickly replaces the love they felt for one another, or there’s just no energy left for self care anymore, or there’s no desire to maintain the relationships and friendships that once fed you. One mom was so exhausted that she fell asleep while driving and crashed her car. Another was so frazzled that she didn’t realize the mistakes she was making in the kitchen and set part of it on fire. There are so many heartbreaking stories of individuals being unable to cope and/or relationships being deeply affected from ongoing sleep deprivation.
As we dive a little deeper into how lack of sleep affects your relationships, it is a sad fact that even just a few nights of broken sleep will affect your ability to cope and deal with others appropriately. The depth of lack of sleep affects more that you think. It’s definitely about your babe and his/her overall health, but also your own. It’s about the health of your partner and the health of the other children in your home (if you have any). It’s about the self-care you give yourself and about the relationships you have outside of your family that sustain you too.
But, you don’t go from fine to a complete and utter mom-bieovernight though. It usually creeps up slowly. For months you’re not noticing that you’re being grouchy, complaining a lot, or being nit-picky. You don’t necessarily see what you’re doing. But it trickles into the way you feel about yourself, the way you show up to the people in your life, to your friendships, your partner. Sleep deprivation has a terrible way of sneaking into everything you do.
So, I urge you to take a look at how the lack of sleep affects the entire family and the other relationships you have.
Adding a baby will absolutely cause some upheaval; this is also true. There will be some months at the beginning where it’s all about survival mode and that’s ok. But the problem can grow as the child does. Most people wait too long before they start looking for some help with sleep. From a partnership/marriage perspective, some families will be on the verge of divorce when they then consider reaching out for help. The partner has moved into the spare room, they’re not spending time together and they’re not being intimate. This is a difficult reality for some families and it needs to be acknowledged that it happens and it happens a lot more than you might think.
A 2006 study showed that people who were sleep deprived had an increased tendency to blame others for problems, had a reduced willingness to resolve conflict by accepting any blame, there was an increase in aggression level and they had a lower willingness to behave in a way that would facilitate social interactions. I feel like this would be a lot of moms these days!!... some of us are just done, burning the candle at both ends, with lack of sleep making life much worse.
But there is a light at the end of the exhausted tunnel!
One of the benefits of working closely with families to resolve their child’s sleep issues is to hear from families… “Solving mychild’s sleep problem saved my relationship with my partner.” This is a HUGE deal!!!
We know that sleep is one of the foundations of a happy and healthy life. So let’s stop trying to tone down the importance of it and start looking at how it impacts our own sense of well-being and our relationships with other people. It takes a lot to keep any relationship and/or a marriage healthy.
And once baby is sleeping better it’s life changing. You’ve gotten back an essential need. You start to feel better. You’re showing up to everything much better, you start to feel good about yourself, you’ve got more energy, there’s more “you” time and you might start feeling better about your partner (if you have one).
If you are still struggling with sleep, I just want to encourage you… just find something that does work. If that is talking with a friend about what they did to get their child to sleep well, do it! If that means hiring a Sleep Consultant because you need the one-on-one help, do it!! I’d be honored to chat with you about your sleep struggles and offer some suggestions. Sleep is so important that it needs to be solved however it can so you can be the best version of yourself possible!!
Happy Baby Sleep Consulting