What to do when you’ve had no sleep!

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I think that among parents of young kids, if sleep were currency, we’d all be utterly poor. We’d be living rough, surrounded by our brood, hands held out in a bowl shape begging young, childless teenagers for 20 minutes of their sleep-stash.

We count our sleep as if it were money, too. When Sonny was a bit younger and woke up at 5.30 all the time, I’d add up on a calculator how many hours of broken sleep I’d had in total, and therefore, how many hours of non-knackered activity it might buy me during the day:

Bed at 10.30
Awake at 12.30 for early bottle = 2 hours
Awake at 1.45 because the dummy fell out= 45 minutes
Awake at 4.30 for toilet (me, not Sonny)= 2.5 hours
Awake at 5.30= 1 hour
Total broken sleep= 6 hours 15 minutes
6 hours and 15 minutes of interrupted sleep might be OK for some people- but not for me. I am a rubbish sleeper and have been for years. I wake up at least once every couple of hours, and also I sleep next to Ed- the man who snores so hard it’s a daily wonder that he’s got a larynx left.
IN my old life, pre Ed and Sonny, I would think nothing of sleeping from 10 or 11pm right through till 10 or 11am. Then getting up to mooch around for a bit, before going back to bed for a nap. Trying to get the perfect amount of sleep was like a fun hobby.
I admit that I’m a total sleep wimp. Whilst I have friends who can get by easily on 37 minutes per night, I’m not that girl and never have been. And I know I’m not the only sleep wimp.
So for all the people like me, who remember the good old days of 8 hours of uninterrupted sleeping gold, here are my 5 top tips to avoid being a Sleep Wimp and start feeling as active and refreshed as Usain Bolt.
Go to bed
Obvious? Apparently not. I base this research on non other than my long suffering guinea pig/husband, Ed. After a very early start, and an intense day at work, Ed will melt into the couch, eyelids half closed, skin as washed out as Glastonbury, and will try to convince me that he is ‘not tired’. I will leave him to ‘just finish watching this documentary on planets’ and Ed will be asleep within 2 Nano seconds, snoring within 4.
If Ed could just admit to himself that actually he is cream crackered and that as per usual wifey is right, he might not look so much like an extra from Night of the Living Dead.
The moral of the story? Don’t stay up to watch something pointless that you can just Sky plus anyway. Admit to yourself that you’re tired, that you’re a parent, and that you need sleep way more than you need to watch The Apprentice, and get thee to bed. My suggestion is that you should have lights out by 9.30, 10 at the absolute latest.
If you are one of these people who ‘doesn’t like breakfast’ then I don’t understand you, and no, we cannot be friends. You may as well tell me that eating 10 Krispy Kreme’s everyday will make me a more intelligent person; both conversations are as mad as each other.
Even if you are one of these oddities who doesn’t wake up to the growling emptiness of a stomach that needs sustenance, you should still force something down. I always always always feel better once I’ve glugged a pint of tea and half a loaf of toast. If you are tired, you have to get your energy from somewhere. Now is not the time to be focused on trimming the fat- if you’ve had minimum sleep, you need maximum carbs. My suggestion for a healthy, energy packed breakfast is 16 cups of tea, and a banana on toast. With butter. And honey. Just do it.
I heard somewhere recently that apples are better at keeping you awake than coffee. So now I eat a lot of apples. I don’t know if it’s the fact that it’s true, and they are working, or that it’s impossible for me to be asleep when I’m constantly crunching, but who cares- it works. Eat apples.
Don’t expect too much of yourself.
Following a really bad night, with little or no sleep, I feel drunk, itchy and like I might start crying at any point. So on days like this I try really hard to be kind to myself. If I’ve got a full, madly busy day at work, then I make sure I’ve got 6 million apples, a gallon of water and enough money for a bacon sandwich and a bit of cake. If I’d planned to cook a proper meal that night, I cancel that plan. If I’d planned to do anything social, I cancel that too. I’ll get through the day one hour at a time, and when Sonny goes to bed at 7.30ish, I will probably go too.
Don’t be scared of being tired
Unless you work for Google, or Nasa, people aren’t expecting you to solve the mysteries of the Universe. Remember that even people without kids know what it’s like to be utterly exhausted. I worked this out recently- I’m sometimes so scared of being tired, and falling asleep with my forehead on my keyboard, that the feeling of fear replaces the feeling of exhaustion. Which would you rather be, terrified or shattered? I would always opt for the latter.
Don’t forget that it’s only one day,  you can get to bed earlier tonight, and in a few years time when the kids are all grown up, and you’re also a bit older, you’ll barely even remember this.
You’ll be too preoccupied with the pain in your joints and how they stop you from sleeping.
Till next time – Kelly x

Post Author: Kelly

I'm Kelly and I like sleeping, lying down, resting relaxing and reclining. Sadly I don't indulge in most of these cherished past times anymore because they have been replaced with the domestic chaos that comes with having a 3 year old boy, a husband with the mind of a 3 year old boy, and a baby bump due for arrival this November. I feel guilty a lot about more or less every parenting decision I take, and find that blogging about the guilt can often help you realise that, although you haven't managed to get even one carrot into you child's mouth in 3 years of trying, you are usually doing your best for your kids. Share my guilt! Read my posts! Thank you, Kelly. x

18 thoughts on “What to do when you’ve had no sleep!

    Art Mama

    (September 30, 2012 - 2:58 pm)

    Don’t be scared of being tired – Great advice!


      (September 30, 2012 - 5:25 pm)

      Simple but true! I always think ‘oh god I’m so tired I’m probably going to collapse in the office’ but of course I never do. So that’s wasted energy worrying- makes you more tired! Answer= don’t stress about it! 🙂

    Totally shattered

    (September 30, 2012 - 5:17 pm)

    OMG! I had my calculator out as I was reading this trying to add up my broken sleep!!! Hilarious article, informative and I will try this!!!!


      (September 30, 2012 - 5:26 pm)

      Thank you! It’s true, specially being kind to yourself. We all expect way too much of ourselves. It’s fine to be knackered, most people are!

    The Monko

    (September 30, 2012 - 8:01 pm)

    hahaha this made me laugh so much, I am also a sleep wimp. I freak out if Goblin wakes before 6am and start panicing about how tired i’ll be during the day and when i will be able to go back to bed – and then like your husband I end up staying up later than planned watching crap or blogging. tsk! Great advice, I am sharing this on the Sunday Parenting Party pinterest board


      (September 30, 2012 - 8:17 pm)

      Thank you so much! I’m always delighted to meet other sleep wimps. Do you also lose out on tons of sleep because you’re too busy worrying that you’re not getting to sleep?! Another classic sleep wimp trait x

    Debbie Blair

    (October 3, 2012 - 1:16 pm)

    I will tell my daughter about your blog. She is a new mommy and I know she will enjoy you. WHen I was a new mommy (7 times over) my favorite saying was “this too shall pass” and unfortunately it did. Since my last child just go married, I am an empty nester now and wouldn’t hesitate to go back to those sleepless nights. I just started blogging and that helps fill the void. I will tell my daughters about your blog and I am subscribing now!


      (October 3, 2012 - 7:43 pm)

      Debbie how funny, my Mum always says ‘this too shall pass’. When I 1st had Sonny and couldn’t see the woods for the trees, all I could think was ‘this will never bloody pass’!
      7 kids is incredible!
      Where do you blog?
      Thank you for reading x

      Debbie Blair

      (October 4, 2012 - 10:52 am)

      I blog at wwe.infoformydaughters.com. Thank you for asking.

    Ness @ One Perfect Day

    (October 7, 2012 - 12:46 pm)

    Kelly this is such a great post. Funny and helpful too. I’ve featured you on my blog today as one of my favourites from The Sudnay Parenting Party. Thanks for linking up. Oh, and I am going to be eating lots of apples from now on!

      The Monko

      (October 7, 2012 - 6:43 pm)

      haha ness i featured it too – obviously we were all grabbing at it in desperation fro any tips on how to deal with sleep deprivation


      (October 11, 2012 - 11:13 am)

      Thank you! Are the apples working? X

    The Monko

    (October 7, 2012 - 6:42 pm)

    this post was featured on the Sunday Parenting Party – please grab an I was featured button from my button page if you’d like one.


      (October 11, 2012 - 11:13 am)

      Thank you, I would love one! Thanks so much for featuring it on your great page, I’m touched 🙂 x

    Very Busy Super Mumma

    (October 7, 2012 - 10:38 pm)

    If I wasn’t so tired Kelly – I would be laughing. Everything you wrote is so true in my world – husband is the same – cause I would NEVER know just how tired he is after he comes home from his paid job. Like you, I burst into sparadic tear sessions, things that I know can’t move start to move and I get hungry!
    Having only two hours of sleep last night – life must go on – two little ones under two don’t care how much they impact on your sleep – my focus is not on how little sleep I’ve had – but to make sure that my boys have a great day.
    Hope that makes sense … I think the couch just moved 🙂

    Have a great day



      (October 11, 2012 - 11:12 am)

      Weirdly Karen I know exactly what you are saying! Sonny was ill last night and I’ve had 4 hours sleep on top of 2 large glasses of red wine and a cider. Feeling pretty horrendous today but the show must go on. Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂 xx


    (June 4, 2013 - 2:21 pm)

    … [Trackback]…

    […] Read More here: mummyology.co.uk/2012/09/what-to-do-when-youve-had-no-sleep.html […]…

    Shane chartrand

    (June 2, 2014 - 1:45 am)

    I love ZENBEV. ..best relaxing sleep in a long time

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