This post is part of our Sleep Series. Fellow moms trying to help you rest easy!
There is exactly one thing on my list of resolutions this year: getting more sleep. While I’ll probably still do my annual spring refresh, my main focus this year is on achieving the one goal that is mostly within my control and will make all other dreams possible. I will make sleep a priority.
Why focus on getting more sleep? Why not have a sexier resolution? I’ll get to that. . .
I used to be firmly in the camp of moms who stay up way past their bedtimes just to get some alone time and unwind and be productive. After becoming a mom, I realized that the only time I could really count on relaxing without someone needing me was after 8:30 p.m. By then, my son was sleeping soundly, most urgent chores were done, and my husband and I could catch up. But I realized that if I wanted to do anything completely by myself, I would have to do it after my husband went to bed.
I got into the habit of sleeping around midnight, which was insane for me in retrospect. Before becoming a mom, I had always been an “early to bed, early to rise” kind of person. Yes, that annoying breed of individual who willingly and gleefully wakes up at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning to clean her house, exercise, shower, and read the newspaper before most people have even woken up. Becoming a mom has completely changed that.
Sadly, my son is not a great sleeper. Even though we maintain a strict bedtime and have a great nighttime routine, he doesn’t always fall asleep or stay asleep the way we hoped he would. We never know when there will be issues in the middle of the night or when we can expect a punishingly early morning wake-up. While many of my friends can count on their kids to sleep reliably from 7-7, not a single expert has been able to get my son to do that. So I have to be prepared for anything. And what that means for me now is going to sleep by 9:30.
Sticking to an early bedtime and getting more sleep has revolutionized my life. Most obviously, I feel more energized and less tired throughout the day. But most importantly, getting more sleep has helped me become a better mom. I have infinitely more patience when I’ve had a decent night’s sleep. My health is better, my mind is clearer, and I’m able to face the day with a great attitude. All this is unsurprising, but it’s worth emphasizing.
It does feel like a sacrifice to give up several hours of alone time and productivity that I had come to cherish so much, but the benefits of sleeping properly outweigh the downside for me. You don’t have to look far to find all kinds of support for getting more sleep. The New York Times declared it “the simplest way to drastically improve your life” and called sleep derivation “the invisible ceiling to how good life could be.” This isn’t an exaggeration. If you need more convincing and perhaps some tips on how to incorporate more sleep into your life, start here.
The bottom line is that moms have a superhuman ability to put their needs last and run on woefully inadequate sleep for years on end. But just because we can doesn’t mean we should. In an era where self-care is rightfully celebrated, let’s not overlook perhaps the most fundamental way we can take care of ourselves and improve our quality of life: getting more sleep.