Thoughts at 3AM: Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation is one of the hardest things about parenthood. Nothing really prepares you for it. The mind-numbing, all-consuming exhaustion that comes with a repeated lack of quality sleep. The way it affects your mood and your sanity. Those moments when it seems almost everyone else is sleeping and you feel alone. Alone, and utterly exhausted.


When you wonder if you will die from tiredness and really appreciate why it’s a method of torture.


When you resent your children, your children that you love more than life itself, for taking something so essential from you.


A drawing of me lying awake in bed at 3am with hubby and the girls in the bed next to me - and one of the girls is wide awake


When you sleep on the floor, or one of the children’s beds, or the sofa. Anything to attempt to get any kind of sleep. Then you lie awake anyway feeling wound up and angry because you just want to sleep in your own bed.


When you cry at night through the sheer futility of it all.


When you hear your husband snore and think murderous thoughts.

A drawing of me lying awake in bed with one child lying horizontally across the bed with their feet in my face, the other cuddled up to me and my husband snoring away. I am fantasising about hitting him with a mallet.

When you are Angry Mummy during the day and shout at the children because you are tired and grumpy and then you hate yourself for being so much less than you hoped you would be.


When you start the day feeling like you’ve been hit by the tiredness truck and are more tired than when you went to bed.


When your back aches from being unable to find a comfortable position because two small children have made themselves comfortable and now your back ache is stopping you from sleeping.


When even once you have your own space you can’t sleep because your back hurts from sleeping in cramped positions.


When you feel like you would do almost anything to have one good night’s sleep.


When you have forgotten what it is like not to feel tired.


When it feels like there is just not enough coffee in the world to make you feel human again.

A drawing of a very tired me standing next to the coffee machine thinking "Must... Have... Coffee..."

When you see the clock counting down the hours until morning and know that even if you do get some sleep it won’t be anywhere near enough.


When you find yourself wondering if you should just give up and start your day at 3am because you’re awake anyway and it feels easier than fighting a losing battle to grab a couple of hours at best of poor quality sleep.


When you fantasise about checking into a hotel alone just to sleep.


When you find yourself muttering things that you know you don’t really mean. You hate yourself for saying them, but you’re so frustrated and angry from sleep deprivation.


When you think if only you let me sleep, I could have a chance at being a nice mummy. Instead of being a grumpy and cross mummy and hating yourself for it.

A drawing of me lying awake at 3AM with one child awake next to me in bed and one sleeping next to Daddy who is blissfully sleeping. Thoughts at 3AM: Sleep deprivation

When more than two nights of poor quality sleep instantly throws you back into the dark place of postnatal depression when you thought you’d conquered it.


When you remember acutely the sheer hell of the early days and forget the joys that came with them.


When every single little worry you have decides to fill your brain and push sleep even further away.


When the children are finally sleeping but you’re not because your brain is now too busy.


Nothing prepares you for this. That overwhelming, all-consuming tiredness.


Somehow you learn to function, to parent through the fog of exhaustion. You smile, you laugh, you get through the day. Then, when you finally fall into bed at the end of the day, you silently pray “please let tonight be a better one.”


Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. But gradually those better nights get more frequent and the tough ones ease off. When you finally get that good night’s sleep you long for, you feel like you can take on the world.


It’s just hard to believe it will happen when you’re right in the middle of it all. But it will and the hope of it helps get you through.

41 thoughts on “Thoughts at 3AM: Sleep deprivation

  1. It hit me harder with my second. The 1am feed was always a killer for me. Although now they sleep through I find an interrupted night even harder! The youngest had chicken pox a few weeks ago and didn’t sleep for three straight nights. I was a zombie. I thought I was dying! #CoolMumsClub

    1. It’s funny how those uninterrupted nights seem so much harder once you’ve got used to them sleeping through. I do wonder sometimes how on earth I got through that first year!

  2. I can agree with the whole of this post. The eternal tiredness as I now call it is utterly exhausting. Just when you think you’ve cracked it and you’ve gotten one or two good nights sleep, the bad nights come back with a bump. My hubby and I now take turns to sleep in the spare room if we’ve had bad nights with our son. But still, no matter how many full nights sleep I’ve had I still feel tired.

    1. Oh I sympathise – it is so horrible to forget what it’s like not to be tired. Fingers crossed for more sleep soon!

  3. I feel like I constantly have a busy brain!! Even though my LO sleeps through I still can’t sleep properly! I’ve lost count of how many nights I’ve wanted to suffocate my OH for snoring!!
    Such a brilliant post and one which ALL parents can relate to! #coolmumclub

  4. Ah, I could relate to so many of these points. Love how you’ve listed the brutality of sleep-deprivation with a good dose of humour… I guess all we can do is laugh about it (and drink copious amounts of coffee, of course!). Fab post…. I hope things get better soon.

    1. Thank you Nicole. Laughing about it always helps – as does drinking copious amounts of coffee! 🙂

  5. Ohhh the tiredness, I hate it. I thought we’d got through it then my 6 year old decided she didn’t fancy sleeping all night. It’s funny (not actual funny) but once you’ve conquered sleep deprivation and got through to the other side then you have one night broken sleep and find yourself muttering about tiredness then you stop and think, hold on I did MONTHS like this, I’m a hero! #coolmumclub

    1. It’s funny isn’t it how a few nights of broken sleep can break you even though you’ve got through months of it.

  6. I can relate to all of these points… one really doesn’t understand sleep-deprivation and exhaustion till one is a mum! Love the way you’ve put this horrible part of parenting in a humorous light… after all, all we can do is laugh about it (and have copious amounts of coffee, of course!). Fab post.

  7. Oh Louise, yes yes YES. I can’t remember feeling ‘not tired’ and even when we have good nights I still feel horrendous – it’s as though I have three years of sleep debt to pay!

    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub – where I stay up past nine o’clock just one night a week 😉

    1. Lol, it’s funny how past nine o’clock is a “late night” these days! I know what you mean about feeling like you’re still paying off the sleep debt.

    1. The back ache is not fun! I’m lucky to have a very good chiropractor who sorts it out every so often!

  8. I don’t know what a full night sleep is anymore! Before I had my daughter I loved an 8 or 9 hour stretch, now I’m lucky to get 5, and Im up getting ready for work at 4:45am. I believe my body has adapted to this now and I’m survivng! xx

    1. It’s true that you do adapt to some extent although an 8 or 9 hour stretch sounds utterly blissful!

  9. I do love your drawings! I remember those days of awful sleep deprivation. I used to work until 3 am some days and then be up at least twice with Lia between then and 7 am when the girls would get me up. So awful. I don’t get as much sleep as I’d like now but it’s a lot better than it used to be.

    1. Thank you Nat – I have fun drawing them! Working until 3am and then being up several times before getting up at 7am sounds horrendous. So glad that you’re getting a little more sleep now even if it’s not as much as you would like x

  10. Oh gosh, I really am dreading throwing myself into that stage all over again! There really is no describing the awfulness of it – it turns you into a completely different person and makes every little thing so difficult. I’m hoping for a better sleeper this time around, but what will be will be! I do hope that this time around I’ll be more able to focus on the fact that it will end eventually, and that I can get through it. I remember often thinking to myself how amazing the human body is that it can survive on that little sleep and still somehow keep going! Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    1. It is amazing how you can keep going on so little sleep. Definitely the hardest thing about life with little ones. I do hope that you get a good sleeper this time around though x

  11. I had a really bad year of sleep deprivation from both the girls waking and I was surviving on 3 hours broken sleep. It turned me into a person that I didn’t recognise at times. But some how we get through it and I look back now and have no clue how, but I did. Since last May things are so much better and now both girls go through the night and I just have the occasional wake up from Holly. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    1. That sleep deprivation is so hard – I don’t like the person I turn into on that much broken sleep. As you say though, somehow you get through it. So glad that the girls are sleeping well now and you are getting much more sleep. It makes such a big difference x

    1. Thank you – it’s so tough though! Hope your little one is letting you get some sleep!

  12. I know exactly what you mean – I don’t have this so much any more but back in the early days I really think the sleep deprivation contributed to some undiagnosed PND. I really feel for people who have to endure this for years rather than months – I was always super strict about my eldest never being allowed to share my bed (he’s a massive fidget anyway) but I got a bit more lax with the youngest. I still occasionally have a sleepless night when my mind is full of stress over the divorce etc. X #thetruthabout

    1. I’m sure the sleep deprivation was a factor in my having PND too. Thankfully it’s nowhere near as bad as it once was – it must be awful to have chronic sleep deprivation over years.

  13. The UN Geneva Convention states that anything less than 6 consecutive hours of sleep for a prisoner constitutes torture. If only my son, followed the same guidelines… I dream of 6 consecutive hours.

    Pen x #thetruthabout

    1. No wonder it’s so hard to function – we’re all trying to manage with sleep deprivation levels that are considered torture!

    1. We sleep much better than we once did but I do really struggle when we have a broken night. It makes me wonder how I ever coped with them being a constant occurrence.

    1. Oh yes, have definitely had those moments. When you’re so tired you can’t even string a sentence together.

    1. Ah yes, you have it all to come again! Somehow we manage to get through it all though – even if it is incredibly tough at the time!

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