THE SHAT­TERED PAR­ENT

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - COVER STORY -

Par­ty­ing and week­end lie-ins come to an abrupt end when you have a child. While we know that par­ents of new­borns have no hope of get­ting a good night’s sleep, it only grad­u­ally dawns on you that eight hours a night will re­main a dim and dis­tant me­mory for some years to come.

From tod­dlers wak­ing up at 5.30am to start the day, to bed-wet­ting five-year-olds and sev­enyear-olds crawl­ing into your bed after night­mares, the pri­mary school years can be just as tir­ing as the early days.

“I strug­gled with my sleep through­out my preg­nancy and after the birth of my twins,” re­calls Katie Brindle. “I had com­pli­ca­tions and was in in­ten­sive care and then I breast­fed for six months. It was ex­haust­ing. By the time the twins started

HOW DO YOU SLEEP? BEE BERRIE, 37, BE­SPOKE CAKE MAKER AND MOTHER

“I used to love a good long sleep. But since hav­ing my daugh­ter 20 months ago, that has be­come a dis­tant me­mory. On a very good night, she’ll just wake up at 3am and then go back to sleep un­til 6am. On a bad sleep­ing through, my sleep pat­terns were so off whack that I needed help, and that’s what drew me to Chi­nese medicine. Even now, when I’m off bal­ance my sleep is the first thing to go.”

“So many par­ents are walk­ing around like zom­bies in the work­place,” Co­hen agrees. “Busi­nesses need to work out how to help and sup­port par­ents, be­cause they are not get­ting the best out of them in their sleep­de­prived states.”

In one study, it was es­ti­mated that em­ployed par­ents miss out on a to­tal of 645 hours of sleep night it will be 11.30pm, 1.30am, 3.30am, 5.30am… she has only slept through the night once since she was born.

“My hus­band and I go to bed at 9.30pm. We do split shifts; one of us sleeps in our bed and is on call, the other sleeps on the sofa bed with earplugs in.

“I don’t like to com­plain about it, be­cause sleep de­pri­va­tion as a new while rais­ing a child for 18 years, com­pared with those who do not have chil­dren. “For some­one who needs eight hours of sleep each night, that’s equiv­a­lent to miss­ing out on more than 80 en­tire nights of sleep,” Gre­gory says. “As a par­ent, I can tell you that it some­times feels like a whole lot more.”

What can they do? Co­hen works with work­places to of­fer one-to-one sleep con­sul­tancy ser­vices. “The em­ploy­ers who of­fer this are re­ally en­light­ened,” she says. But it also makes good busi­ness sense: ac­cord­ing to US stud­ies, sleep de­pri­va­tion costs Amer­i­can com­pa­nies

$63.2 bil­lion (£48.8 bil­lion) a year in lost pro­duc­tiv­ity. “Get­ting help with your child’s sleep can turn your life around,” Co­hen says. Gre­gory rec­om­mends the free web­site babysleep. com for ad­vice from top pae­di­atrics. par­ent is nor­mal. But it does feel de­bil­i­tat­ing at times; I don’t feel I am func­tion­ing as I used to.

“Luck­ily my job (bees­bak­ery.co.uk) is my ther­apy. I love bak­ing; it’s a mas­sive stress relief.

“This morn­ing, after a 4.30am start, I felt so much bet­ter for hav­ing baked some­thing; I could bake a sponge cake in my sleep.”

Bee Berrie must cope with the sleep de­mands of her tod­dler daugh­ter

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