If you imagine that six weeks’ after you give birth, you will be strutting along the high-street, carrying your baby in his designer outfit finished off with a funky bandana bib, looking like a sophisticated modern mum, you’ll probably be disappointed. Being a new parent is exhausting. Even if you are used to late nights, having to function with just four hours of disrupted sleep every night, and care for your baby 24-hours a day, will take its toll.
Sleep deprivation will, without doubt, impact your emotional and physical health. In the first few weeks, you may not feel it as everyone around you will be offering their support, and if your husband is on paternity leave, he will be around to share the burden. But by around six weeks, offers of help will start to die down, your husband will be back to work, and you’ll be on your own for most of the day. It will not take long for you to start feeling shattered, disoriented, grumpy, emotional and unwell. And if you are not vigilant, your relationship will end up suffering.
Why do you need sleep?
It is a common belief that we need sleep to let our body recuperate from the day’s activity. But apparently, that may not be totally true. According to scientists, eight hours sleep only saves us around 5o kilocalorie, which is equivalent to the energy you get from a slice of bread. So, if that’s the case, why do we need to sleep? After all, Margaret Thatcher and Napoleon, managed on four hours’ sleep every night. And Thomas Edison thought that sleep was simply a waste of time.
Well, we may not know how these people managed, but for ordinary individual like us, we need sleep to help our brain function normally. Lack of sleep affects our memory, speech and decision making ability. In fact, lack of sleep is considered to have contributed to major international disasters such the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the worst nuclear power plant accident in history.
How to prevent your relationship from suffering?
Your relationship with your partner is usually the first casualty of sleep deprivation. You’re too tired to even have a normal conversation with your partner, let alone have sex. You may start questioning what happened to the happy couple that you were once.
But don’t fret, if you can get through this phase, your relationship will have it spark again. Don’t feel under pressure that you need to have sex to keep your relationship strong. Your partner will be just as exhausted as you. So, instead of worrying about your lack of sexual drive, focus on spending time and relaxing together. Aim to put your baby to bed early and spend a few hours cuddling on the settee, watching TV and having a glass of wine.
One thing you can be assured of, your sexual drive will come back once you start getting a good night sleep. Although it may take some time, maybe when the kids have flown off the nest.