- Sleep, silly!!! Not many of us are getting enough, and especially if you have a special needs child!
And did you know that insufficient or interrupted sleep can be dangerous to you and others? I know this because I was the one with the interrupted sleep for over 15 years. It can affect your concentration, memory problems, work and can also lead to serious or fatal car accidents. Studies have shown that when we don’t sleep enough, our bodies suffer real physical damage which can lead to heart disease, stroke, cancer or even diabetes.
Here are some warning signs to see if you have a sleeping disorder:
- Difficulty paying attention or concentrating
- Falling asleep while driving
- Performance problems at work or school
- Frequent memory lapses
- Feeling the need to take naps almost every day
- Having slowed responses
- Struggling to stay awake when inactive
- Problems controlling your emotions
- Getting told often by others that you look tired .. (ok, that would just make me mad..)
So you might not have insomnia, but you may be suffering from insufficient sleep. A lot of moms could sleep more, but don’t because their kids keep them up or they are just too busy to catch all 7-8 hours. So the result is a sleep deficit…which is the total amount of sleep that you lose over a period of time. So if you need 8 hours of sleep and you are only getting 7, then by the end of the week you have a sleep deficit of seven hours! You’ve just lost the equivalent of an entire night’s sleep in only one week!
Now what? Here are some ways to help…
- Share nighttime duty, if you have a spouse or partner. Are you the morning person? Are you the night-owl? Try trading off times for both of you to get some quality sleep. Maybe ask family or friends to help for a night when you just really need that extra hour.
- Nap when you can! Sometimes even a 20 minute nap can make the difference between a sweet mom and a wild, screaming head…..
- Hire someone! Find out if there is respite workers in your community. Some options might be an overnight respite, or maybe you could have someone that is qualified to come to your home.
If you are exhausted because of your child’s sleep problems, then see your child’s doctor to rule out any interactions with one or more medications, or perhaps allergies. Your child may need a sleep study to help manage sleep problems.
Now here are a few ways to be sure you can catch some zz’s…
- Avoid caffeine (cola, tea, coffee, etc) in the afternoons
- Take a warm, relaxing bath
- Try to go to bed at the same time each night
- Turn off the tv and get off the computer. Save the bedroom for sleep.
- Exercise during the morning hours, not late afternoon.
Remember, taking care of yourself is a necessity, not a luxury. You can’t do it all and sometimes you need to be still and listen to God. In order to have the inner resources to take care of your special needs child, your family and yourself, you need to have a spirit of stillness and make a quiet time, just you and God. You will find that the more you have Him in your life, the more you will have a sense of calmness and a ‘peace that surpasses all understanding.’ (Philippians 4:7)