A recently released study confirms what we moms have long known - that the "baby brain" attributed to sleep deprivation is a very, very real thing. Although the study was conducted with frequently-woken mice, sleep researchers say that it's not too big of a leap to extend the findings to humans, who experience a mental fog that undermines our ability to think clearly when we have not gotten enough sleep.
When my oldest was born, I remember being shocked at how little sleep I required to function. Those first few weeks of wakings every 1-3 hours were brutal, but I was lucky that each of my little ones fell into decent 4-hour stretches by about one month. For the most part, I found that if was able to get 5 consecutive hours of sleep and a gallon of caffeine a day, I was good to go. Sure, I'd get tired, but when the occasional bout of infant illness or teething tossed me back into 2-hour sleep cycles, I was once again grateful for the pathetic 5-hour stretch.
As it turned out, becoming a mom has changed my sleep cycle permanently. Never a "night owl", I found that I was able to stay up later post-baby and now my most productive hours are between 8 pm (once the kids are down) and 1 am. As a hyper Type-A personality, I've frequently felt that sleeping, along with eating, are two of life's biggest time wasters, so I was thrilled to discover that the (lack of) sleep training I received from having 3 babies in 5 years has translated to increased productivity. I can now function on 5 hours of sleep a night instead of 8, a time savings that translates into an extra 21 hours a week! I can do this for exactly 3 consecutive weeks - and then I crash.
Instead of cluing in to how BAD this is for my body, I'm content to function in 3-week cycles for the sake of squeezing more work, volunteering, blogging (sometimes), and chores into my days. Never mind the fact that my memory for details is shot, half the time I call my kids by each other's names, and I can frequently be found driving down my street with a forgotten travel coffee mug on the roof of my van. To each their own, I say.
How has becoming a mom changed your sleep needs, for better or for worse?