Sleep. If you just asked yourself, “What’s that?”, then you’re probably a parent. Right? It’s true what they say, once you become a parent, you will never sleep again.
As we all know, sleep plays a major role in the way a person functions throughout the day. As a mom of three kids ages four and under, saying I lack sleep is an understatement. Add in the inconsistent hours of my husband’s work schedule, the To-Do list that is constantly running through my mind, and the fact that the tiniest noise wakes me up, and you’ve got yourself a Mombie. You know, a combination between a Mom and a Zombie. A Mombie. There’s a good chance that a lot of you reading this, are in fact, Mombies too. No sleep. You get it. And yet, you still manage to come off as a functioning human being.
So, when it is said that you should get anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep every night, that statistic probably makes you laugh. Hard. When I get 5 hours, I am ecstatic! Full of energy! (Ok, maybe not…) Ready to conquer the world! Or just able to tolerate the day? Point is, as a parent, we do the best we can with the time we are given.
We can’t control when our kids will wake up. They have bad dreams, they pick a booger and need a Kleenex, they become thirsty and need a drink, they fall out of bed, wet the bed, and then they wake up before the sun does. It’s life. It’s wonderful and challenging at the same time. And we are all tired.
The fact that not getting enough sleep can make a person feel a little crazy, just adds to our Mombie mode. You feel tired, irritable, foggy, possibly depressed, and it can actually cause headaches. Mom or not a mom, no one wants to feel like that! If it continues on for a long period of time it can become even more dangerous. (Yes, more dangerous than a foggy, tired, irritable mom.) It can lead to anxiety, weight gain or loss, high blood pressure, memory loss, and heart attack, just to list a few. It’s eye-opening and scary that the lack of sleep can cause such damaging effects.
So, how do you go about getting more sleep as a parent? Everyone told me when I had my first daughter to “sleep when the baby sleeps.” I’m kicking myself now for not taking their advice when I had the chance, but the piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and dust would guilt me into taking care of them before my own needs. (Sound familiar?!)
Today, as I battle through some of the most exhausting days of my life, I find that keeping myself disciplined enough to get to bed at a decent hour can honestly make all the difference. Sure, it’s tempting to want to stay up and watch whatever “Reality” TV show is on, or check your Facebook just one more time, but you have to make yourself priority and get to bed!
Whether you’re in college, high school, married, independent, whatever your status may be, find a way to put some focus back on you. In our world we’ve gotten really good at making excuses for not putting ourselves first. Make your sleep a priority. In order to do that, here are some suggestions on things to aid your sleep:
⁃ Make a sleep schedule. Set a time to go to bed and a time to wake up. Then stick to it.
⁃ Leave your stress at the bedroom door. Get out of your head when you enter your room. The things on your To-Do list won’t get done while you’re sleeping anyway, so leave them be.
⁃ Relax! Before heading to bed, read a book, take a bath, get off of your electronic devices! Let your mind and your eyes relax.
⁃ Be active during the day. Eat right and exercise so that when it’s time to sleep, your body is ready for rest.
⁃ Nap if you have the chance! But, not too close to bedtime or for hours on end, because it will make you unable to sleep well at night, and you’ll be back to where you started.
Remember to put yourself before your things, and hopefully a good night’s sleep is in your near future. If you don’t get the recommended amount per night, even an extra hour will help you. If you find yourself having more serious sleep issues, contact your doctor.
Here’s to extra sleep and good health because of it!