This calculator reveals how much sleep you've lost as a parent

Lost Sleep Calculator for Parents: Play Like Mum
Lost Sleep Calculator for Parents: Play Like Mum 

Since becoming a mother, nearly 10 years ago, I have lost more than 2305 hours of sleep.

I became aware of this very precise figure yesterday when I found out about a new calculator from playlikemum.com that uses stats and studies on how parenting impacts sleep to determine the 'terrifying truth' of how much sleep individuals have lost. 

Depressingly, my 2305 hours of lost sleep is likely to be a woefully underestimated.

It's based on my first baby and doesn't take my second child (the "bad" sleeper) into account. The calculator assumes that normal sleep resumes when your baby reaches six years of age (I wish). I shudder to think what the actual figure might be. 

Play Like Mum hope that the calculator will validate sleep deprived parents. "If you've had another sleepless night, you certainly are not alone!" reads the press release along with some eye-watering stats. 

But does knowing how much sleep we've lost actually help parents when they're in the thick of serious sleep deprivation? Naomi Chrisoulakis is a Postpartum Doula who supports women in the early stages of motherhood. She tells me that in her view, calculating los sleep is counterproductive. 

"While it's important for people to have realistic expectations around normal baby night waking, focusing on what you have lost rather that what you have gained is going to unnecessarily make people feel bad about their experience," she says. 

On top of this, Naomi notes that thinking too much about exactly how much sleep you're getting (or not getting) can add to the natural anxiety new parents have about sleep.  "I'd never advise new parents to clock watch overnight," she says. 

"It's much better to try and surrender to the fact that your baby is going to wake, and accept that you're going to lose sleep." 

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Naomi says that instead of spending time worrying about the number of hours you've slept and how that might compare to someone else in your friendship circle or at Mothers Group, it's more important to focus on your needs. "Exhaustion is super common, but that can be compounded when women don't have good support" she says.

In terms of positive strategies, Naomi suggests reaching out to friends and family. 

"Think about who you can ask to hold the baby while you have a nap or who can bring you a meal. Think about what you can say no to so that you have time to just put your feet up for half an hour. Use your mental energy to come up with strategies," says.  

"While acknowledging that sleep deprivation is very real – it's not helpful to focus on how many hours of sleep you've missed out on. What's helpful is support," she adds. 

The other glaring issue of calculating lost sleep is that it forces parents to think about what they have lost. "The reality is that babies cause sleep disturbance," says Naomi. "But do you want to focus on what you've lost or would it be better to think about what you've gained?"