I’m so sleep deprived and the stress around naps, bedtime, and sleep techniques is consuming me!
Sleep is a pretty big topic for those new to parenting. It’s one of the first things that comes up in parenting circles and for new moms in particular, sleep—and whether you’re getting enough of it—is one of the first things they get asked about. Sleep deprivation in moms is so common so it’s no wonder this subject comes up all the time.
This topic can be a touchy subject though when nighttime and naptime aren’t going according to plan.
You might feel exhausted, sleep deprived and plagued with anxiety as you try to finally get a game plan that’s going to work for you and your baby.
I truly believe that one of the most challenging things about parenting babies or little kids is managing the stress around sleep, the sleep deprivation, and also the pressure that society places on you and your children to somehow magically change how sleep is going.
It’s no wonder that so many new mothers are suffering from intense sleep anxiety as they worry about whether or not they’ll ever have a restful night ever again… and what the sleeplessness might be doing to the health of their baby.
Sometimes the feelings surrounding sleep are worse than the actual sleep deprivation itself. If you’re experiencing anxiety in this area, there’s support.
If you’re not sure if the anxiety needs action, below is a list of signs you may be in need of support.
1. Your worries about sleep are taking up too much mental energy
When you’re not lying awake wide-eyed and wishing you’d be able to doze off, you’re stressing about how to get better sleep so that you can operate like a functioning human being. Sleep deprivation in moms is something that can end up occupying a lot of your brain space to the point where it’s taking up all your time, then you’re probably dealing with sleep anxiety.
If your life is now full with reading about sleep techniques, researching the newest tactics, tracking your baby’s sleep constantly and trying different methods (to no avail), then this is problematic.
2. You’re experiencing information overload which adds to the stress
The experts you follow on Instagram say one thing, the article your sister sent you says another and the moms in your circle of close friends have a whole other list of things you’re “supposed” to do for a better night’s rest.
As a new mom, this information overload can be so overwhelming. Sifting through the advice (good and bad) and information (factual or not) can feel like a whole part-time job. You might be feeling overwhelmed by not knowing which advice is actually the right advice and where to even start.
Ready to learn how to let go of the stress and anxiety around your child’s sleep? Check out this resource…just click the image to learn more.
3. You dread naps and bedtime
Oof, I can totally relate to this. I remember dreading the nights and having an anxiety that would build from the late afternoon through the evenings. I felt so alone at night and as if I was in an entirely different universe all by myself where everyone except me was peacefully asleep and recharging for the new day ahead.
Anticipating another lonely sleepless night where you’re unable to get back to sleep after your baby wakes can feel awful. If even just the thought of trying to go to bed is causing distress or a sense of doom, then that’s a sign that the anxiety is more than just a regular worry. (Anxiety is often worse at night. Read why here.)
4. You’re exhausted and afraid that you’ll always feel this way
You will sleep again but in the moment that can just seem like a far-fetched idea.
When you’re in the zombielike new mom stage, the exhaustion can feel permanent. Your thoughts might jump to worrying that this is just your life now and that you’ll feel this way forever.
Remember that anxiety lives in the future so if you’re stressing about unknowns down the line (like being in this same state one, three, or five years from now), then that’s a sign that anxiety is taking over. Keep in mind though that your fears are valid. Just because it’s normal and natural for a baby to wake up all night, that doesn’t mean that it should feel natural for you as an adult to all of a sudden have to function and feel well with such little sleep.
5. You’re unable to stop obsessing about sleep quality and duration
The annoying thing about stressing about sleep (yours, your baby’s, your family’s) is that the more you think about it, worry about it, come up with ways to “fix” it, etc., the more you’re fueling the anxiety.
It might feel like you’re gaining some control over the situation but you’re actually just allowing the worry to spiral. Obsessive habits around sleep can look like: constantly tallying up the time when you and your baby are asleep, tracking and focusing too much on the stats you collect, rearranging your life to accommodate for these worries, or finding quick fixes to sleep deprivation.
6. You tried sleep training and found it stressful
Let’s call it as it is: sleep training is an industry that causes a lot of stress, fear, and unnecessary anxiety for parents. Mothers in particular are hypervigilant while their babies are young. Many corners of the sleep industry (of course not all, there are always exceptions) prey on that by taking very normal situations and building them up to be more problematic than they actually are. You might be experiencing something that’s totally normal, completely par for the course, and yet this culture has you thinking about it as a problem to be fixed. For example, you may have been led to believe that issues sleeping as a baby will lead to similar issues later in life. Or that waking during the night is bad for the baby’s brain development.
This is a culture of worry and fear. We live in a culture and society that’s focused on the individual (your career, your financial gain, your productivity, your jam-packed schedule) rather than a society the supports the family (like multi-generational families who all pitch in, or societies that prioritize mum’s responsibilities for her baby.) What I’m saying is that the system is set up for you to feel like you’re the problem. You’re not.
7. You’re anxious about how lack of sleep is affecting you and your child’s health
Hey, this is a normal and natural fear, right? Sleep is honestly so important for our health so if you’re waking up throughout the night and then operating at a very compromising capacity, it’s completely acceptable to wonder what kind of toll that might take.
Personally, I remember feeling like my personality was a watered down version of what it had been. I mean, I was operating at a fraction of what I was used to. That impacts mood and many women experience depression and anxiety during this time for that reason. So yes, the concerns are valid. With this said, health anxiety is worst-case-scenario thinking. Some illnesses can’t be prevented. It’s best to cross that bridge when (and if) you come to it rather than bringing on all this worry about something that may never even happen.
Anxiety about baby sleep is such a common experience for new parents. It may seem like you’re the only one lying awake at night or feeling as though your anxiety is getting the best of you. Truthfully though, there’s more people in the same boat as you than you know. We live in a culture that both causes fear amongst moms while simultaneously not offering the most basic systems of support. If that’s keeping you up at night, you’re not alone.
When it comes to anxiety about baby sleep, there’s normal worry and then there’s extreme stress and anxiety. If you’re just not able to move through this stage without obsessing, stressing, feeling a lingering sense of doom about sleep, you probably need some support. Stress Less About Baby Sleep is my course that helps you go from stress and frustration about sleep, to calm, patient and in the present so you can get back to enjoying this stage with your child. Learn more here.