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The first time i beat ten boats in the nationals!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Me attempting to continue life, work, and play
with my new appendage!
 Sleep has been on my mind lately, or lack thereof with a 5 week-old.

I have been advising my clients to get adequate sleep for weight loss for decades, as it has an impact on your stress hormones, which in turn will have an impact on your ability to lose weight. There are some tips on getting adequate sleep at:

But my fuddled and tired head has got me wondering what else is sleep good for? Dr Oz (yes, catching up on my daytime TV) said in a recent episode that being sleep deprived and driving has the same effect on your reaction times as drink driving! That is a scary idea with all these mum's on the road!

The midwives at RNS told us during the Breastfeeding Course that your body makes breastmilk better at night (which makes sense, since according to researchers at Harvard, you also repair your body tissue, grow, fight infection, store memories, etc while you sleep). They also said that the baby will deliberately feed at night for this reason.

That didn't make sense to me, since being sleep deprived stresses the mother, which REDUCES milk supply in a similar manner as high intensity exercise.

Researchers at Harvard are not really sure why we sleep, but they do know what happens while we sleep, and what happens when we don't sleep. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, consequences of not sleeping include: difficulty receiving and interpreting information, difficulty coordinating movement, losing our ability to make sound decisions (because we can no longer accurately assess the situation, plan accordingly, and choose the correct behavior).
Harvard Sleep Researchers put it like this: "Being chronically tired to the point of fatigue or exhaustion means that we are less likely to perform well. Neurons do not fire optimally, muscles are not rested, and the body’s organ systems are not synchronized. Lapses in focus from sleep deprivation can even result in accidents or injury. "

So where does that put me, and the midwife's brutal advice to essentially suck it up and become part nocturnal and part superhero? If the research is correct, i am putting lives at risk every time i get behind the wheel, or my baby's life at risk every time i pick her up while i am in this state.

I have been lucky enough to have a partner that is equally involved in the sleep/feed routine, so it is less of an issue as it could have been, but it worth asking the question. Maybe the general advice should be more flexible than "demand feeding" and simply accepting  the fact you are going to be up all night. After all, aren't the mother's needs important too? Won't a healthy mother mean a healthy child?

There are enough books and sleep centre's around to see that not every baby magically conforms to a convenient routine, and often this needs to be guided. Is there any harm in starting early, and treating it like Jet Lag? I am going to give it a go, and i will keep you posted.

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