Now you have your own baby, you understand it means so much more than that.
Sleep-deprivation isn't something that can be fixed with caffeine - oh no. Sleep deprivation is a gradual snowballing of tiredness that gathers and turns you into an exhausted, emotional, short-tempered parent who – driving their baby around in the car at midnight hoping that they will, please, go to sleep – feels like you are the only person going through this.
We’re here to tell you - you're not. Sure there’s a few parents who have got the whole 12-hour-sleep thing nailed but there’s a whole lot more who don’t.
We spoke to a few of them for their top tips on how to make it through the tough (tired) times.
how to cope with sleep-deprivation
you’re not alone
“No matter how strange your tactics are for getting them to sleep - you’re not alone. I spent the night in my son’s cot once! I thought I was the only one crazy (and small) enough to do that, but months later, one of my friends confessed she’d done the same!” - Rachel, mum to three-year-old Rosie
“We put off sleep training for ages but when my son was 16-months we couldn’t take it anymore. We chose a pretty ‘gentle' method where you didn’t pick him up but didn’t leave the room either, and within a week he was sleeping through. Should’ve done it sooner!” - Aidan, dad to two-year-old Ellis
relax when they sleep
“I could never sleep when my baby napped as I’d mainlined too much coffee by that point! But what I did start doing is relaxing while he napped, instead of tidying up, putting the washing on etc. Having those hours just sitting down doing nothing really helped me get through the rest of the day.” - Elizabeth, mum to Patrick, eight months
recognize how sleep-deprivation affects your moods
“I’ve had some ridiculous moments on sleep deprivation... crying at animal charity ads on television, forgetting my husband’s middle name. I also had a moment where I just collapsed into tears of despair at the changing mat, because my daughter was doing an endless stream of poop. My husband quietly removed me from the scene and finished the nappy. He's a hero." - Anna, mum to 1-year-old Finlay
do whatever works
“Our son would sleep pretty well in the buggy, so we had the odd desperate night where we’d be walking him up and down the kitchen at 2am just to try and get him off. I don’t miss those days!” - Simon, dad to Ben, three
don’t pack too much in
“If they’re not sleeping, doing too much during the day can leave your head spinning. This is your time to be selfish and say no to plans or cancel events - you've got a perfectly good excuse to stay home which can be quite liberating!” - Maria, mum to Blake, two
agree beforehand who does what
"Night-time arguments are horrible, so agree who does what beforehand. I would get up with ours during the night but my husband would get up with them in the morning (which was sometimes 5am) and I’d have a slight lie in. Worked wonders!” - Alex, dad to Annabelle, six, and Elliot, three
sleep does gets better
“I’m going to be unpopular for saying this but the sleepless nights are almost worth it, because once they do start sleeping through - and they will - you’ve never known happiness like it!” - Owen, dad to Phoebe, two