5 tips for the working parent on how to get through the day when sleep deprived

Lack of sleep when a working parent in no joke. Sleep deprivation can make you feel even more overwhelmed, over-stressed, under-productive, increase your self-doubt, question your abilities…the list could go on. The brain and other organs do a lot of their restorative work when you are asleep. When you are waking frequently at night, or not getting enough sleep it can really impact your mental functions and your mood. You may struggle to find your words (more than usual), more accident prone, you find it hard to make decisions, it is hard to multitask and when you try, it feels like you got nothing productive done.

Here are 5 tips to help:

Work smarter during the day

  • Review your workload and priorities for the day.
    • Write them ALL down, big and small.
    • Review what needs to be completed and by when. And how long each task will take.
    • Focus on the tasks that are critical to getting done.
    • Focus on the hardest tasks that need the most brain power, at the time of day you have the most energy.
  • Don’t try to multitask, keep things simple for your brain to process.
  • Write everything down. EVERYTHING!
  • Change your environment if you can, to keep your energy levels up
  • Prioritise fresh air, whether getting a walk in at lunch time or mid afternoon. Can make some phone calls while walk if need to.

Communication – Both at home and in work

  • Ensure your communication is crystal clear with your colleagues and manager. This is key. Be open in letting them know that you haven’t slept much.
  • Be clear with those around you on your actions / goals/priorities for that day.
  • Ensure you are clear on what their requirements from you are that day. Miscommunication can cause more work for everyone, and no one has time for that, especially when running on broken sleep.
  • Remind yourself how effective and good at your job you are. Don’t let the self doubt creep in when over tired.
  • When struggling with own confidence or self doubt see blog on   7 skills to shout about as a working Mum


  • Ensure you are clear in what you need, support, picking up things you would normally do and from who. You don’t have to do everything.
  • Be your future friend by being organised evenings before, having meals in freezer batch cooked, or ask partner or family to batch cook for these tough days.
  • Ensure to put time aside in the evening to wind down and rest your body and brain. You need to recharge.
  • Importance of food / nutrition
      • Remember breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Make sure if is full of goodness.
      • All we want to do is reach for all the sugar, quick fixes. It takes effort to remember the high sugary snacks will only lead to more crash and burns. Try to plan good energy snacks and meals on days you are really depleted due to sleep deprivation. Have your list of go to snacks always in the cupboard for these tough days

To help calm your overwhelmed mind, take time for you

  • Using breath work, getting that fresh air, feeling connection with others, is all good to help calm your mind when racing or struggling to make sense of something.
  • Breath work – for example, using the four in – seven out breathing technique. In through your nose for 4, out through your nose steadily for seven. You can do this anywhere for up to 60 seconds, to help regulate you and calm the overwhelm.

As a working parent who is navigating sleep deprivation also, please know you  are not alone and it is incredibly difficult. Be kind to yourself, forgiving of yourself, and lean on those around you who will want to support you.

To follow for more tips and advice see LinkedIn

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