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Sleep & Mental Health

Becoming a mother often means sacrificing sleep, but nothing truly prepares us for how it affects our well-being and mental health. From the beginning, our sleep routines are disrupted—pregnancy itself can make simple tasks like turning over in bed feel like a major challenge!


When our little bundle of joy graces us, we are besotted. And some of us just love seeing their faces, supporting them in sleep, the night feeds and all that comes with it. But what I find is that, many don’t talk about the other side of those feelings. Sometimes, instead of feeling connected, we operate on autopilot, experiencing frustration and resentment despite our best intentions—our bodies simply respond to the severe disruption of sleep.


And why don’t we talk about it? Guilt. Media. Fear of honesty.


If you’ve felt like this – YOU ARE A GREAT PARENT!



Now, a few sleepless nights are nothing much to worry about. But when it becomes long term, it can take a toll on our bodies physically, our cognitive function and our mental health. According to the Mental Health UK Organisation – 1 in 5 adults in the UK are getting much less than the recommended sleep of 7-9 hours. 13% of the UK are surviving on dangerously low levels of sleep.


Sleep deprivation can not only turn and significantly impact our mental health, but also exacerbate existing symptoms too.

Chronic sleep deprivation is tough, and often making us harsher on ourselves. It affects the rational part of our brain, making us more emotional and less able to handle stress or make decisions. This often leads to guilt over our reactions, which can escalate anxiety and affect our rational thinking. Lack of sleep also heightens the risk of post-natal depression, impacting our focus and abilities, especially challenging for working parents.


But what then often happens is that then the guilt sets in. We wish we hadn’t reacted insanely emotional, snappy, and irrational in the day.


And then – anxiety peaks! We question EVERYTHING because we are thinking much less rationally. And lack of sleep heightens all this including post-natal depression. We struggle with our focus, abilities and if you are a working parent this can make things incredibly hard in the juggle too.

Sleep and Mental Health are very closely linked. So it’s really unsurprising how it affects us, particularly in the first year of our child’s life.


 


Diagram showing correlation between sleep deprivation, struggling day to day, low self esteem and heightened worry and anxiety.
Impacts on Sleep & Mental Health

 

But don't worry—if you're feeling low, questioning motherhood, dealing with rocky relationships, or experiencing negative effects, there are steps you can take to start feeling better. It takes time and effort, but with consistent habits, you can improve your mindset.

And it takes time – I had to work solidly on my mindset for a few months after having my first to get my back to a good place! So, give it some time after setting these habits up consistently.

 

Here are some tips:

  1. List what you love about yourself: Turn these into positive affirmations. Repeating positive statements can help shift your mindset.

  2. Positive mantras for sleep: Create affirmations to use during night awakenings.

  3. Use headphones: Listen to positive parenting podcasts during the day or meditations at night.

  4. Limit social media: Avoid scrolling through social media as it can negatively affect your mood. Focus on content that makes you feel good and turn off devices before bed.

  5. Go to bed early: While it’s tempting to stay up for personal time once your baby is asleep, prioritize catching up on sleep.

  6. Reframe thoughts on sleep: Be grateful for the sleep you get and remind yourself you can handle the day.

  7. Get outside: Fresh air benefits both your baby's circadian rhythm and your mental health. Utilize nap time for walks.

  8. Freshen up: Taking a shower and wearing fresh clothes can significantly improve your day.

  9. Be kind to yourself: Recognize the challenges and acknowledge that you are doing an amazing job.

Most importantly, 8. Make a plan to prioritize sleep. "Sleeping when the baby sleeps" isn’t always feasible, especially with other responsibilities, but seek support where you can. Envision your ideal sleep schedule for your family and set goals to make it happen. Consider if bedtime routines need adjustments to create more evening time for yourself or if you need to share sleep duties with your partner. Focus on specific actions to achieve your sleep goals.

 

 

If you’re unsure where to get started, you can download my free guide here – https://www.beyondthestars.co.uk/stepstosleepsuccess or check out the membership for transformational support and goal setting to help you transform your sleep whilst feeling like you are the parent you want to be! https://www.beyondthestars.co.uk/membership

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