Your arms are getting heavy. Your legs feel water logged. Your head feels like a 20 pound balloon that’s over-inflated. You can’t concentrate on anything. Can’t focus. You’re past irritable. You’re past faking it. You are beaten. Whooped. Done.
We’ve all been there. Once I felt so tired, I actually felt myself dying just a little bit. For years my son Nick was in flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention.
Over the years, I’ve done research, tried lots and lots of techniques, and found a few that actually help. So far as I know (and I did check), there are no books out there about sleep deprivation for parents. I call bullshit on that.
In lue of a PHD-written article, here is the definitive BSO tips list for new parents. Some of them are obvious, some not.
- Nutrition Techniques: More fruits and veggies, lighter carbs, fewer meats and limit fat. Eat a healthy protein-rich breakfast to give you a boost of sustained energy. Drink coffee before noon and lots of water after noon. Cut out the alcohol. Buy a juicer and make fresh juice for yourself every morning. Yes, it’s a pain to clean – but it’s worth it.
- Home Remedies: 2X Ibuprofin. A Shower Always Refreshes (warm water right on the face is best). If at all possible, take a nap – even five minutes. Can’t nap? Take a 30 minute bath instead while closing your eyes and being very, very quiet - and telling yourself to relax - will help you.
- Exercise: Really any kind of exercise is good. Too tired? Get over it. Stimulate your system with a fast-paced walk and see a boost in energy. Juggle a soccer ball. Clean the house (chances are it needs it).
- Physiological Technique: Lie on your back and place your feet on two pillows. This changes the direction of the blood flow in your body. You only need to do it for about five or ten minutes - no longer. Just close your eyes and relax as you do it.
- Breathing Technique: Lie on your back - so you're in a nice straight line - not rigid - very relaxed - hands resting by your side. Then, take a good deep breath and gently blow the air out your pursed lips - very slowly - long and drawn out...Do it over and over.
- Meditation-esque Technique: Relax your muscles - group by group - from your feet on up your body to your head, while you say to yourself statements like: "I'm now relaxing - I'm allowing my muscles to relax... I'm relaxed... I'm letting go of my upset and stress.”
- Work Strategies: Front load your most challenging tasks (or most important meetings) before noon. After noon you can expect the dizziness and spaceyness to start getting the upper hand. Do more tedious mindless work when that happens. If you still have trouble, take five minutes to close your eyes, take slow and deep breaths, and relax. Then jump back into it.
The thing about sleep deprivation is that it makes us stupid. And the thing about becoming stupid is that we lack the ability to notice how stupid we’ve become. Even if you think you’re fine, you’re probably not. So if you’re not getting enough sleep, start taking better care of yourself.