How to survive the torture of sleep deprivation

Surviving the torture of sleep deprivation |

We’ve been having a really rough time with the Stuntman’s sleep lately. I can count on one hand the number of times he’s slept through the night in the last couple of months. And when I say “slept through the night”, I actually mean slept most of the way through the night and woke up at the arse-crack of dawn… (or pre-dawn now, thank you very much daylight savings).

I’m so tired I can’t see straight. I can’t think straight. I can’t even walk straight. Trying to function at work on 3 or 4 hours of broken sleep is challenging to say the least. My temper is quick to fire, and I catastrophise about silly things that would normally roll right off my back. I feel like I’ve forgotten something really important, but for the life of me I can’t think what it is.

Sleep deprivation is absolute torture. My frustration with still having a child who wakes multiple times through the night is palpable. He’s 20 months old for fuck’s sake! Nearly 2! Why oh why is he still such a terrible sleeper?!?!

I start second guessing myself, wondering if he’s developed another food intolerance, wondering if it’s separation anxiety. Maybe more teeth? Is he cold? Too hot? Getting sick? Who the hell knows.

I try all the techniques. Leave him to cry it out. Run to him straight away and pick him up before he gets too worked up. Go in but don’t pick him up, just pat him in the cot. Send Mr McD in. Offer water. Sing songs. Rock and shush and pat and jiggle. Nothing works with any reliability. The only thing that actually works every time is the boob. So that’s what we’re doing for now. I know, I know, rod for my own back and all that. Whatever. I can’t… ummm… what was I saying?

There are a few things I need to get me through the day after a noisy night of broken sleep.


This is pretty obvious. My coffee machine is my life support on these awful mornings, when I’m shaky with tiredness and on the verge of tears. I have one coffee at home, then one more when we go out. Any more than that and it will start to work against me, increasing my sense of anxiety and making me (even more) irritable and jittery.

A coffee cup full of coffee beans

My lifeblood…

Fresh air

Getting out of the house sometimes feel like the last thing I want to do when I’m surviving on limited sleep, but getting slapped in the face with some crisp fresh air actually does wonders for bringing me out of my bubble of self-pity.


Just a brisk walk up the road – I’m not talking a heavy gym session or anything like that. But getting the blood pumping, and some fresh air (see above) makes me feel alive, and can help to make things seem not so bad.

Nutrient-dense food

When I’m this exhausted I crave comfort food, but I know if I actually eat that giant slab of Turkish bread with peanut butter, or those hot chips with gravy, I’ll end up feeling worse. So instead I try to start the day with one of my green smoothies, and concentrate on getting some nutrient-dense food into me throughout the day. With maybe a hit of 70% dark chocolate to get me through the afternoon slump.


A pair of big sunnies can hide the fact that I’ve got more baggage under my eyes than a carousel at Sydney airport, and can protect my sensitive brain from the harsh glare of reality. I’ve been known to wear my sunglasses in the office to shield my poor, burning eyes from the computer screen. Nobody cares.

A pair of white sunglasses

Part of my armour

Reconnect with my baby

When we get up for the day, I really do try my hardest to let go of any resentment I feel towards the little guy, and just get on with things. Some mornings are harder than others! We have a long cuddle and he gives me a big sloppy kiss. If I’m at work I take time to scroll through photos of his cheeky smiling face, to remind myself that this torture is, in fact, worth it.

Of course it is.

It won’t last forever… will it??

What about you, are you living with a sleep thief?  How do you get through the day?

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