Effects of sleep deprivation

4 effects of sleep deprivation

I don’t think I’ve slept for more than 4 consecutive hours in about 8 months.  Most nights I get around 3 hours at a time.  I know I’m not the most sleep deprived person out there, but for someone who used to quite happily sleep for 11 hours at a time, this is really hard going.

Quite worryingly, a recent study has found that getting 8 hours of sleep with interruptions is as bad as getting just 4 hours sleep!  The study only looked at the effects of ONE disturbed night and found that the effects on the subjects mood, alertness and cognitive function were the same as when they had just 4 hours sleep.  I dread to think what the results would show if they actually studied the effects of night after night of disturbed sleep!

I know most parents (and anyone else who, for whatever reason, has their sleep interrupted) would agree that being deprived of a good night’s sleep can leave you feeling like crap.

So to cheer us all up, here’s a list of the four most fun effects of sleep deprivation!

4 effects of sleep deprivation

 

Sleep deprivation impairs your cognitive function.

Sleep is incredibly important to our ability to think clearly and to retain new memories.  Lack of sleep causes problems with alertness, concentration, reasoning and problem solving.  It also makes it really hard for our brains to remember things that we’ve learnt and experienced during the day as the sleep cycles that are important for consolidating our new memories are disturbed.

Maybe it’s the lack of sleep then that is partly to blame for the baby brain that has plagued me since having children!  I know I find it really hard to concentrate and think straight when I’ve had a particularly bad night with Nerys.

 

Sleep deprivation makes you gain weight.

I know that I’m a few pounds heavier than I’d like to be, but I can’t think why this is – could it be linked to the cakes I devour with a sugary coffee in the afternoons, or the stash of chocolate and biscuits on my bedside table?  Who knows!

As it turns out, it’s really not my fault that I’m eating so much junk!  A study carried out a few years ago found that lack of sleep was linked to an increase in the peptide ghrelin which stimulates hunger and a decrease in leptin which lets the brain know we’re full and suppresses our appetites.

So lack of sleep really is making me more hungry.  Studies have also shown that it makes us crave foods that are high in fat and carbohydrate.

See, I can’t help it.  I need to eat all those biscuits, because science!

 

Sleep deprivation impairs your judgement.

This one does actually scare me a little bit, especially considering I drive my son to school every day.  When our sleep is interrupted our judgement is impaired and our mental alertness is decreased.  I’m so aware of this when I’m behind the wheel; making sure I’m paying attention to everything around me all the time.

Another fun side of this impairment in our judgement is that  it’s actually been found that when we’re sleep deprived we’re especially prone to errors in judgement when it comes to assessing how the lack of sleep is affecting us.  So, if we have quite a few disturbed nights in a row we start to think that we’re adjusting to the lack of sleep, when this isn’t actually true.  Phil Gehrman, a sleep researcher, has said  “Studies show that over time, people who are getting six hours of sleep, instead of seven or eight, begin to feel that they’ve adapted to that sleep deprivation — they’ve gotten used to it.  But if you look at how they actually do on tests of mental alertness and performance, they continue to go downhill. So there’s a point in sleep deprivation when we lose touch with how impaired we are.”

So apparently, when I wrote yesterday that I can survive on very little sleep, maybe I was kidding myself that I’m actually functioning properly!

 

Sleep deprivation makes you more emotional.

Now this one is actually news to me.  I’m quite an emotional person in general, and just put my tendency to well up at silly things down to my hormones still being a bit unsettled while I’m breast feeding.

Apparently, however, I might also be able to blame this one on my lack of sleep!  A study carried out in 2007 found that the brains of people who were sleep deprived were 60% more reactive to negative and disturbing images.  One of the authors of the study, Matthew Walker, said in a statement about the study that “It’s almost as though, without sleep, the brain had reverted back to more primitive patterns of activity, in that it was unable to put emotional experiences into context and produce controlled, appropriate responses,”

So when I got all emotional and had tears in my eyes when acts were stolen in the battle round of ‘The Voice’ at the weekend, it was really my lack of sleep that was to blame!

There are loads more ways that lack of sleep affects us, including making our skin age more quickly and potentially causing quite significant health problems, but these 4 things are the ones I’ve really noticed for myself.

Here’s hoping that I get some better sleep soon before I end up depressed or with heart disease.  Although, I will miss having a good excuse for eating junk and crying at reality tv!

How love expands

How love expands

I have found myself completely smitten with my daughter over the last few days.  Don’t get me wrong, I have loved her since the day she was born, but just recently I’ve been getting those waves of love for her all over again.

As she hurtles towards her first birthday her personality has just blossomed.  She is spirited and determined and full of fun and mischief.  She has started laughing whenever she hears someone else laugh, even if they’re in a different room.  And I’m finding these funny giggles impossible to resist.  When I hear them I can’t help but smile and feel that unmistakable rush of love.

This has brought me to thinking about a conversation I had with my friend when she first had her daughter.  She was so completely in love with her that she couldn’t imagine having another child, as she couldn’t see how her love for her daughter could be shared with a new baby.

How love expands add another child to family

 

At the time I didn’t have any children of my own and didn’t fully get how she felt.

All I knew at that point was that I loved my husband with all my heart, but I knew I could give just as much love to a baby as it would be a different kind of love.

A few years after that conversation, I had my son and, once the fog of having a new baby had lifted, I was overwhelmed by my love for him.

It was so different from anything I had experienced before.  This tiny person who was completely reliant on me.  He became the centre of my world and I didn’t want to share him with anyone.  He was my first born and every ‘first’ we experienced together was wonderful.

I started to understand what my friend had meant – how could I love another baby this much?  How could I share this love with someone else?

How love expands add another child to family

 

Then, when Rhys was 2 and a half, I fell pregnant with my daughter.

And I realised pretty early on that I needn’t have worried.  As my bump grew and I began to feel her moving around, I quietly started to fall in love with her.  Feeling her kick and squirm when the way I was sitting made her uncomfortable, I felt like I was already starting to get to know her.

My hopes for a baby that wasn’t desperate to be on the move and who would happily just sit on a play mat faded quickly as I felt how busy she already was in my tummy.

 

Then, a week overdue, Nerys arrived.

 

And in those quiet hours after she was born, when it was just the 2 of us and ‘never gonna give you up‘ playing in my head, I was completely overwhelmed by the love I felt for her.

“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once” – John Green, The fault in our stars

And when we took her home from the hospital and I saw my suddenly-big boy again and felt the same love for him that I had before, I knew for certain that I’d had nothing to worry about.  The love that I have for Rhys didn’t get shared with Nerys when she was born; a whole bucket-load of new love was created, just for her.

So for any of you out there who might be concerned about loving a second child as much as you love your first, please try not to worry too much about it – our capacity for love really is astounding!

 

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I’d love to know your thoughts on this – were you worried about loving a second child as much as you love your first?
Watch rom coms to improve your relationship

Can doing this one little thing improve your relationship?

I wrote a list the other day of my ten favourite rom-coms.  These are films that I can quite happily watch over and over again.

They also live in a separate dvd rack in the bedroom, away from the rest of our collection.  Why?  Because these are films that Steve really doesn’t want to watch.

They’re films that I put on to watch when I go to bed early; comfort films to fall asleep to.

If we’re going to watch a film together we’ll normally choose an action film or a comedy.  If we tried to watch a romantic comedy together I’m not sure how long we’d last before I turned it off simply to stop Steve mocking and insulting it!

So, this research from the University of Rochester might not be that helpful to us.  But it might be of interest to some of you couples out there that can both tolerate rom-coms.

Can watching rom-coms improve your relationship_

 

The researchers were looking at what might help bring down divorce rates in the early stages of marriage, and found that divorce rates were cut in half for couples who watched romantic films together and talked about them afterwards.

That sounds like a pretty impressive statistic to me!

The study looked at couples in their first 3 years of marriage and found that watching a film every week that has a romantic relationship as a main part of the plot and discussing it afterwards was as effective at preventing divorce as other, more intensive relationship therapies.

The key seems to be the discussion afterwards, where the newly-weds would answer specific questions about the couple in the film and how they dealt with various issues.  They were encouraged to discuss if they dealt with things the same way as the film couple.

I think the main thing to take away from this is the importance of talking openly and honestly about our relationships, and to acknowledge how we might sometimes handle things the wrong way and work to resolve issues in a healthier way.  My husband and I are generally quite good at talking things through, and we’ve been married longer than the 3 years that were studied, so I think I might be able to let him off the hook with this one!

And, who knows, if we ever feel like we’re not communicating as well as we should maybe the threat of having to watch something with Keira Knightley or Reese Witherspoon in it might be enough to get him to open up!

My top ten rom-coms

My top 10 rom-coms

Continuing with the love theme for February, and following on from my favourite romantic moments from tv, I give you my top ten rom-coms.

Now, I’m not ashamed to admit that I am a big fan of romantic comedies, quite often I find that the cheesier they are the better!  I rather like the predictability of them, that at the end the boy gets the girl.  They’re sheer escapism and I love it!

So, after looking through my collection and having a think to narrow down my options – I give you my top 10 rom-coms:

My top ten rom-coms

 

1) Clueless

I remember going to see this in the cinema (back when it only cost about £3.00 to see a film!) and I loved it then.  And I watched it recently while doing night feeds with Nerys and I still love it!  Also, has Paul Rudd aged at all since this making this film?!

2) Love actually

Ahh, love actually.  Every year I try to wait till the perfect moment in the run-up to Christmas to watch this film!  It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s sweet, it has Andrew Lincoln in it.  What’s not to like?!  (note – my husband’s answer to that question would be “Keira Knightley”, but I personally have no issue with her!)

 

3) 10 things I hate about you

One of the classic high school movies.  I don’t care that it’s predictable that Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles will end up together, it’s still a great story!  And it has some of the best embarrassing Dad quotes ever!

“I’m down, I’ve got the 411, and you are not going out and getting jiggy with some boy, I don’t care how dope his ride is. Mamma didn’t raise no fool”


4) He’s just not that into you

I wasn’t sure how they would translate the book into a film, but I like what they decided to do!  This is a film that I can watch over and over again.  Maybe because, like ‘love actually’ there are several overlapping storylines which keeps it interesting?  Maybe it’s the fact that Bradley Cooper is in it.  Who can really know for sure?

5) Boys and girls

This is one of those films that I’m not sure how many people have actually seen, but I really like it!  It’s the story of a boy and a girl who meet when they’re kids, then bump into each other a few times over the years, before becoming friends and then more than friends.  It is cheesy (it stars Freddie Prinze jnr so of course it’s cheesy!) but it has some good, funny dialogue, a choreographed danced routine in a club and Alyson Hannigan which all add up to make it pretty enjoyable to me!

“Hey, did you guys read how the zoo animals tried to reorganize their cages in alphabetical order? Apparently the aardvark started it”

6) The time traveler’s wife

Now, the time traveler’s wife is one of my all-time favourite books.  I absolutely love it.  So I was a bit nervous about watching the film in case they ruined it (like the tv adaptation of Goodnight Mr Tom, another one of my all time favourites.  I just didn’t get on with John Thaw as Tom, sorry!).  But I was really pleasantly surprised.  I think the film is faithful enough to the story to satisfy me and I really love Rachel McAdams so I was happy with her as Clare.  This is one for a rainy night when I want to be all cosy inside!

7) How to lose a guy in 10 days

When a rom-com has Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson as the leads you know it’s going to be good!  Kate Hudson as the crazy girlfriend is just brilliant!

“Our love fern! You let it die!”

8) Little black book

Little black book is another one like ‘Boys and girls’ that I’m never sure how many people know about.  I don’t think it was really that big when it came out, I mean, I don’t remember it being on at the cinema, but I bought it on a whim on dvd and really like it.  It’s actually one that’s not quite so predictable and formulaic, with the ending not necessarily what you think it might be.

9) The Family Stone

Another one with Rachel McAdams in it and another one that tends to get saved for Christmas time.  I just find this such a lovely, cosy film to watch when it’s cold and dark outside!  I think Sarah Jessica Parker plays the role of uptight Meredith really well and I just love the family dynamics that are the basis of the film.

 

10) Dirty dancing

How could I have a list of rom-coms and leave out Dirty Dancing?!  It’s a true classic and the soundtrack is just awesome.  I have some really good memories surrounding this film and the songs from it.

“You just put your pickle on everybody’s plate, college boy, and leave the hard stuff to me.”

 

What do you think?  Do you agree with my list or do you have another favourite that I’ve missed out?  I’m always looking for recommendations for films to watch!
It's the little things in love that matter

It’s the little things that matter in love

When you’re in a relationship, do you tend to think it’s the little things or the big, grand gestures that mean the most?
The ‘Enduring love’ research project has been looking into this question and the results show that, in long-term relationships, it’s the little things that we do for our partners day to day and week by week that matter the most.
It's the little things that matter in love
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This has made me think about the little things I can do to show my husband how much he means to me.

The first thing that comes to mind is to make sure I compliment him when I think he looks good.  I’m so guilty of thinking he looks nice but not actually saying it!

 

Having searched the internet for inspiration, here’s my list of other little things that might really make a difference in how happy and content you both are day to day in your relationship:

 

  • Pay attention to the things your partner does for you, and make sure you say thank you for it
  • Give your partner genuine compliments
  • Say nice things about them to other people
  • Talk positively about them to your children
  • Leave them the last chocolate
  • Make them a cup of tea or coffee in the morning
  • Bring them a cup of tea or breakfast in bed at the weekend
  • Get up with the kids so they can have a lie in
  • Do their least favourite job around the house for them
  • Write them love notes (or love texts/emails)
  • Run them a bath after work
  • Take the kids out for a few hours so they can have some peace
  • Send a text or call them for no reason other than to let them know you’re thinking of them
  • Bring them little gifts
  • Tell them you love them
  • Bring them flowers

 

The research seems to show that all these little things done day to day add up to mean so much more than a grand gesture once a year.  They’re constant reminders that we are loved and appreciated and that our partners think about us and care about our happiness.

If you want to really make sure that the little things you’re doing are making your partner feel loved then you can check what love language they speak and go out of your way to do things in the way that speaks their language.

I know that I really appreciate it when I get up in the morning to find that my husband has cleaned up the night before, and when he comes home from work with a bar of chocolate for me it can really make my day!

What little things matter most to you in a relationship?

perfect pancake recipe

Perfect, simple pancake recipe

About this time every year the shops start to fill up with those little squeezy bottles of lemon juice, jars of chocolate spread and packets of pancake mix.

Now, I can understand the lemon juice and the chocolate spread, but I can’t quite get my head around the need for packets of pancake mix!  I mean, I’m all for making your life easier and have on a few rare occasions bought pre-prepared veg to make soup with, but pancakes are so simple to make from scratch that buying a mix just seems like a real waste of money!

So, for those of you looking to break out of the packet-pancake-mix zone, I present to you a really simple recipe for perfect pancakes!

A really simple recipe for perfect pancakes

This is the recipe I have used every year since 2002, when my Mum sent it to me on this postcard when I was a student at Swansea University.  I dig it out every Shrove Tuesday and it hasn’t failed me yet!

Perfect-pancake-recipe

In case you can’t quite read the faded writing on the postcard, here’s the recipe:

  • 4oz (110g) plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • Half a pint (275ml) of milk
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

And the method:

  1. Sift flour and salt into a bowl.
  2. Beat to a smooth, creamy batter with the the unbeaten egg, half the milk and the melted butter
  3. Stir in the remaining milk.
  4. The batter is now ready to cook!
  5. Heat a frying pan on the hob and melt a little bit of butter in it.
  6. Pour about a ladleful of batter into the pan and swirl the pan around to spread the batter out.  You want it to pretty much spread out to the edges of the pan and be quite thin.
  7. Leave it to cook for about a minute, then either flip it over using a spatula or be brave and toss it in the air to flip it!
  8. Cook for about a minute on the other side then serve.

One thing to remember – the first pancake almost never ‘works’!  

I don’t know exactly why, but please don’t be disheartened if your first attempt is a disaster!  The second one will be much better, I swear!

making-pancakes

As far as how to serve the pancakes goes, I personally like mine sprinkled with lemon juice and sugar!  And I spread jam on the ones I gave to the kids.  But there are loads of ideas out there.  In fact, you can have a look at my Pinterest board for inspiration!

perfect-simple-pancakes

How will you be enjoying your pancakes this year?  And will you be making them from scratch?!
Cuddle Fairy