How do we make it through the first year…I’ve done it once and am in the middle of doing it again and don’t know how I survived the first time. The lack of sleep a lone is enough to kill ya…I know I often feel irritable, foggy, and just generally in a bad mood…or easily thrown into one. Apparently I’m not a lone, I was reading up a little on the subject and According to the Women and Sleep Poll commissioned by the National Sleep Foundation, 74 percent of women ages 30 to 60 do not sleep eight or more hours per night during the workweek. What’s wrong with this you ask, well we are supposed to be getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep deprivation doesn’t just make you no fun to be around it’s dangerous to your body and mind. The Women and Sleep Poll found that 50 percent of women have driven while drowsy, and 14 percent have dozed off at the wheel. Its gets better… sleep deprivation usually causes hunger…but also decreases your metabolism. Nice huh?!?! You eat more because you’re up more, but you gain like you’re over eating. (Which I guess you really are) Of course along with the weight gain comes your chances of developing diabetes. Then there was a study done by Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and at Harvard Medical Center that showed women who were exposed to long periods of light at night appeared to have a higher risk of breast cancer…women that maybe work the night shift. It’s was because the brains day-night clock was throwing hormones out of balance. For every sleepless night you increase your risk of cancer by 14%. There have been numerous studies on the adverse effects lack of sleep has on the brain, everything from memory loss to slowed comprehension. Generally sleep deprivation causes decreased brain activity. According to the military’s leading sleep expert, Colonel Gregory Belenky, his research indicates that “brain function is degraded by prolonged waking.” Belenky’s high-tech brain images illustrate that sleep debt decreases the entire brain’s ability to function – most importantly impairing the brain’s areas responsible for attention, complex planning and mental operations and judgment. Even more ominous is the brain’s difficulty to recover from sleep deprivation; after 48 recovery hours of sleep, Belenky’s research subjects were still performing more errors than when they started. UCSD School of Medicine researchers posit that the brain is adversely affected by sleep deprivation because certain patterns of electrical and chemical activity that typically occur during sleep are interrupted, thus impeding the brain’s ability to function normally.

Ok so having said all that…being a new mom adds whole list of other things. Like if your are breast feeding and co-sleeping like me, your body clock has been reset to match your babies, and it never goes back. That’s why before kids you could sleep through a hurricane but now wake up when they breathe wrong. This seems good right? The tricky part though…is even though you are on their schedule your body still needs 8 hours of continuous sleep…REM sleep. The new baby isn’t the only thing keeping us awake either. HORMONES! As women we are used to hormones effecting our lives, so why should motherhood be any different. After we give birth our bodies run rampant with vasopressin and oxytocin which help us bond with our babies. Pretty important…but these hormones in the high doses we have them disrupt sleep. It’s like our bodies have turned into two year olds-fighting needed sleep with everything they’ve got.

After reading all this…yes I’m irritable, sometimes a little slow on the up take, but I’ve never dowsed off at the wheel or forgotten to feed anyone. I seem to function just fine…well other then the anger issues. I wonder if we are made to be with out sleep the first couple of years. Our maker was a pretty smart cookie. If our bodies are even producing hormones that keep us from sleeping…well maybe we supposed to be awake. Maybe all those scientific things above don’t apply to moms. Maybe during those first few years we are like super heroes.