Ask any new parent about the effects of sleep deprivation and I can guarantee they will have a long, comprehensive list! What is it about you having a lousy night’s sleep that makes everyone else so awful? At least it seems that way!
Just one night of broken, interrupted sleep, and the next day you feel like everything is irritating beyond belief! People are driving like they’ve been lobotomized, umming and ahhing about their coffee order and asking you the same silly question over and over. It can seriously feel like the universe is just messing with you!
Even thought that is a possibility, it’s more likely you are suffering the effects of sleep deprivation.
What are the effects of sleep deprivation?
The negative effects of sleep deprivation have been known for a long time.
Researchers from the University of Arizona released a study in 2006 into the effects of sleep deprivation. This study showed that people who were deprived of sleep over just a 55 hour period had…
- An increased tendency to blame others for problems
- Reduced willingness to alleviate a conflict situation by accepting blame
- Increased aggression
- Lower willingness to behave in ways that facilitate effective social interaction!
How can sleep deprivation affect your relationship?
While the effects of sleep deprivation may not be earth-shattering news, it does help to explain why being a new parent can be so very stressful!
Imagine that you and your partner are the proud parents of a new baby. Your lives are undoubtedly blessed, but let’s be frank, a new baby is a mammoth responsibility! New babies require their parents to make, hundreds, if not thousands of decisions a day. And for every decision that has to be made, you and your partner need to come to some sort of an agreement that it’s the right way to go.
- What time should we put him to bed?
- What do we do when he starts crying?
- Is she getting enough food?
- Is the temperature of this bath ok?
The list of decisions, whether big or small, is seemingly endless, and exhausting! Worse still, every one of them presents an opportunity for disagreement.
Even if you and your partner have fabulous methods for solving disagreements, being sleep deprived could completely derail this process. Suffering the effects of sleep deprivation means that your ability to recognize and respond to each other in a rational, civilized manner has been seriously compromised.
Being forced to debate important life decisions while being psychologically primed to blame, get angry, and less likely to accept responsibility. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right?
On top of that, couples who don’t get enough sleep are less likely to show gratitude towards each other. They are also significantly more likely to feel unappreciated, according to Amie Gordon, a doctorate candidate in social-personality psychology at UC Berkeley.
And as though that’s not enough, consider the fact that lack of sleep decreases libido. Many of the parents I’ve worked with have told me they’ve stopped having sex altogether. Often one of them is sleeping on the couch or sleeping next to baby. In those rare instances where they get the opportunity to fool around, they both say they’re too tired and just not in the mood.
I’m not trying to suggest that sleep deprivation is going to be the end of your relationship. Loads of couples get through this period in their lives with their partnership intact. A baby who isn’t sleeping isn’t necessarily going to result in divorce, but I can say without reservation, it’s certainly not going to help in building a positive, thriving relationship.
Reducing the effects of sleep deprivation
Having a new baby is amazing, but it can also be exhausting too. As we struggled to get our newborn back to sleep in the early hours of the morning, I can clearly remember saying to my partner ‘I knew being a parent would be hard but I didn’t think it would be this hard!’ After months of struggling with the effects of sleep deprivation, we decided we had to do something. Thankfully we found Sleep Sense, not only did it solve our little girl’s sleep issues, it saved our relationship and gave me the amazing career I have today!
There are so many reasons to make your little one’s sleep a priority when it comes to their well-being. But I’d ask you to take a selfish little detour for a moment. Consider what it could mean for you, your partner, and your relationship. After all, if there’s one gift your kids always appreciate, it’s seeing their parents happy, united, and in love.
So before you commit to couples therapy, move to separate bedrooms, or get into one more heated argument about why the towels are on the bathroom floor, try taking a week to commit to improving your little one’s sleep. See how you feel once you’re all getting the rest you need. The results, I promise you, will be nothing short of amazing.
If you need some help getting your little one’s sleep under control, please contact me.