Last night I went to bed early. This is something which I have been promising myself for ages – and I mean like, forever. Normally I tell myself I will be in bed, lights out, eyes shut by ten pm. In reality I never, ever, manage this – there is always something to be reading, writing or just looking at. To be honest, I do blame blogging quite a bit – either I’m doing something blog-related earlier on and then want to squeeze in a bit of ‘downtime’ later, or the other way round, and you know, even though I am a complete failure on the social media – I still spend hours scrolling through the blooming feeds – total FOMO! I’m sure I’m not alone.
Anyway I know that everyone needs sleep but I wonder if different people survive on different amounts of sleep? And that makes me wonder about parenthood and our ability to feel like we’re on top of things and ‘getting it right’… This might be an excuse on my part but I do feel like I am one of those people who just simply doesn’t function properly without at least 8 hours sleep. My kids have taken to coming into my room and insisting I get up and take them down for breakfast round about 06.30am – sometimes a bit earlier, sometimes a bit later. I am *never* ready to get up at 06:30am. I feel like I get about 7 hours sleep in general – whether that be for staying up too late or my body just waking me up too early (the mid-summer 4am sunrises aren’t helping!) and I know this is not a bad amount and I can and do function but there is a huge difference between ‘functioning’ and thriving.
So last night, after (bizarrely!) turning in at about 09:45pm and with only one wakeup call at 11.30pm to replace duvet and provide drink to two year old, I woke up naturally at around 6am. I lay in bed feeling good for a change. The children didn’t come in to me till 06.35am. I was happy – I felt like tackling the day head on, grabbing the nettle and as a consequence I was able to perform all of my necessary mummy functions with good grace and good humour. It made me really re-evaluate the way I have been living my life. Yes, time is short and ‘me’ time even shorter. Yes, productive people often seem to be those whose motto is ‘sleep is for the weak’, but in reality I think there is also a good reason why the expression ‘burning the candle at both ends’ exists: eventually the candle will be gone, just a little piece of charred and blackened wick to toss in the bin.
So, as a little reminder of why we should cherish those pleasant hours in the arms of Morpheus, here is my ultimate ‘obvious’ list of the benefits of sleep (because who doesn’t love a list?):
- More energy
- Better able to control your own emotions
- More likely to feel in control – tolerance and patience
- Better able to cope with unexpected challenges
- Less likely to suffer from depression
- Able to think more clearly, be more creative and productive
- Boosted immune system
- Without actually suggesting that sleep makes you beautiful, there is a reason for the expression ‘beauty sleep’ – your skin has a chance to replenish itself during that downtime – unpack the bags under your eyes!
- Sleep helps you feel more alert (and when you’re driving your kids around that’s quite a big deal)
- Sleep is known to improve your memory – (and we wonder why people with children – particularly women – have so many ‘CRAFT’ moments [to put it politely “Can’t Remember a Thing”..)
Now I realise that there are probably a few parents of newborns out there who probably want to poke me in the eye with a sharp stick right now for taunting them with a nirvana state which they simply aint gonna be achieving any time soon, but believe you me, I’ve been there and it nearly broke me. What is important to remember is that eventually you will be the master of your own sleep/wake balance and when that day comes, make that dodgy decision to click into just one last HuffPo blog of the day come 11pm and you’ll only have yourself to blame.