30 Tips for Coping With Sleep Deprivation


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How are you doing these days? Exhausted all the way to your bones, wandering around in a fog? Feeling a little grouchy? Parenthood promises lots of great things. And then there’s sleep deprivation. If you can't schedule a big date with your 600-count satin bed sheets, give these sleep substitutes a try. I promise at least one of these mood enhancers, recommended by sleep researchers and positive psychologists, will help get you through the day.

1. Go outside for five minutes. (Bonus points if you take a brisk, 15-minute walk. This is what your Ergo baby carrier is for!)

2. Phone a friend. Because, hey, sometimes it takes a village to make you smile.

3. Count your blessings and look for the positive. Or maybe just find one thing that didn't totally suck today.

4. Braid your hair. (Baby daddies with long locks are all the rage, so this isn’t just for mommas!)

5. Smile. (Grit your teeth or bite a pencil to force it. Your brain will thank you.)

6. Eat dark chocolate. Several times a day.

7. Put on a silly hat. Or your kid's superman cape.

8. Pet a ferret. Or hug an elephant (lovie). These things soothe your children, why not you? Plus, no one ever has to know.

9. Watch dog videos.

10. Paint your toenails. (This is totally legit for daddies, too.)

11. Force the fun: Jump up and down. Stomp and bang things. Shake, shake, shake all around. (Bonus points if you get your 2-year-old to join in.)

12. Join a cuddle club. (You can tell me about it later. They creep me out.)

13. Do yoga. Nothing fancy - just curl up on the floor in child's pose. (Bonus points if you fall asleep.)

14. Watch a funny movie.

15. Examine your emotions. Angry? Think on why. Then let it go. (Easy for me to say, right?)

16. Pray.

17. Meditate or breathe for 2 minutes. Or practice a power pose.

18. Exercise.

19. Bake some cookies. Share them with your neighbor (or don’t – this is all about you, so eat up!)

20. Garden. Stick that baby in the pack 'n' play with mosquito netting on top and plant some spring bulbs. Or give your toddler a trowel and tell him to get to it! (Just think of the colors that will dazzle and delight you soon enough.)

21. Hike. (As if!)

22. Go outside again. Sit on the porch and drink in the sunshine. (Your kiddos will love it, too. Free Vitamin D for everyone! Especially if you've got a jaundiced baby.)

23. Drag the old jogger stroller out of the attic, arm the kid with a bowl of goldfish and hit the road. (Actual jogging not required.)

24. Host a DANCE party! (A party of one is great, too.)

25. Sing. Loudly! I'm talking Guns N' Roses or Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Your choice.

26. Steal your kid's crayons and draw like mad.

27. Write.

28. Read a funny blog post.

29. Flip through old photos. (And toss the ones you’ve kinda always hated.)

30. Go outside again and pick flowers. (Bonus points if you share some with the old lady down the street.)

And, if possible, sneak in a 10-30 minute power nap. That's all it takes to restore your soul: 10 minutes. You can probably fit that in while baby sleeps or during your lunch break at work.

What would you add to the list?

Ginny Olson is the author of the blog MothersRest.com, a love letter to moms, both new and seasoned, journeying from sleep deprived to joy-arrived. When not riding-herd over two small male children, Ginny works full time at the Center for Creative Leadership, a global nonprofit that specializes in leadership development and conducts neuroscience research, and teaches Marketing for Nonprofits at UNC-Greensboro.


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