You know you are sleep deprived when you start to use your oyster card to open the front door, or your front door keys to get through the ticket barrier!! And if I can do this on the odd disrupted night after attending a birth or helping a postnatal client overnight, I can only imagine what it feels like to be in that space on a daily basis as a new mum or dad.
Yes, Sleep, Glorious Sleep! Everyone is talking about it and I have conversations about sleep (or lack of, or baby’s lack of) on an almost daily basis. The main concern seem to be, ‘I am exhausted! How can I get more sleep?’ This is fine if you have no little people to attend to throughout the night (and day!), you can be more disciplined about switching off screens and getting to bed at a reasonable time. But for parents this can be a major challenge!! Babies are not like devices which can be switched off! Sleep deprivation is a well known form of torture, yet we literally sign up for this when having a baby! Everything seems so much harder when you haven’t had enough sleep, then you start the cycle of analyzing why your baby doesn’t ‘sleep through’ when apparently all the others in your postnatal mummy groups do… Or do they?!! And is that really the goal? Humans sleep in cycles and most of us will be aware of turning over or even getting up for a drink or wee in the night! So do we have realistic expectations of our babies?! Or not?!!
I am not going to debate here whether you or your baby are sleeping enough, whether there is a right amount of sleep or whether ‘broken sleep’ can be fixed by a sleep consultant. I am going to share with you a remarkable simple and accessible yoga gem. Maybe it is time to accept things the way they are, stop fighting the inevitable and put some new tools in your bag (or on your phone).
Luckily the ancient yogis knew a thing or two about the importance of true, deep rest and developed a magical technique called Yoga Nidra. Most of you will have appreciated a relaxation at the end of a yoga class, but fewer of you will have explored this technique, which takes you deep into a state of ‘psychic sleep’. Research suggests that an hour of Yoga Nidra is equivalent to 4 hours sleep! Whether that can be accurately measured, or not, need not concern us here, but it may give you an indication of how powerful this power nap can be!! Download a track onto your phone, or stream it from the web. Listen whenever you feel the need for a boost – maybe when baby is having a catnap too, or during a day feed or a night feed. Combined with some deep breathing and a few stretches you will be amazed at what a diffence it can make. Play it out loud or on your head phones…. but NOT when you are driving!!!
Aim to fit this in 2-3 times per week…. but start with once and see what happens.