The wake-up call

Story by Stacie Gaetz

Winter 2019

“Severe sleep deprivation isn’t just a regular part of parenting and it can be downright dangerous”



Witnessing a horrific car crash helped me sleep better.

Let me back up a bit: When my son was born, we were prepared for a few months of rough nights. However, we soon realized our boy was very different from our daughter and after many doctor’s appointments, he was diagnosed with colic.

We waited for him to grow out of it, but after two years of getting less than three hours of broken sleep a night on a mattress on the floor in his room, I needed a new word for exhausted.

The resulting mental and physical impairment was negatively affecting my relationships with my children and husband. Yet, I thought I could deal with it on my own, until I received the biggest wake-up call of my life.

On my son’s second birthday, I was driving to pick up his cake in my usual sleep-deprived stupor when I witnessed a devastating accident at the intersection of Yankee Valley Boulevard and Main Street. The SUV beside me flew over the median, across lanes of oncoming traffic and smashed through a retainer wall. I later found out that the cause of the crash was believed to be driver fatigue. That was my wake-up call.

As a mom, it’s easy to think, “This is just what having young kids means,” and down your sixth cup of coffee (that morning), but the reality is sleep deprivation negatively impacts every aspect of your life including:

  • response time
  • mental health
  • physical health
  • cognitive function
  • memory

I came to the horrifying realization that it could have been my children and I in that SUV and immediately contacted a sleep consultant.

Severe sleep deprivation isn’t just a regular part of parenting and it can be downright dangerous. If your lack of sleep is negatively impacting your life, get help whether that be in the form of hiring a professional, talking to your doctor or asking for more support from your loved ones – your life could depend on it.


Stacie Gaetz loves to tell stories. She thoroughly enjoys her work as a freelance writer, but her real passion is for her daughter, 5, and son, 2.

Featured Photo Credit: iStock