Why skipping sleep is a false economy

snoopy sleepingLast 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?):

  1. More energy
  2. Better able to control your own emotions
  3. More likely to feel in control – tolerance and patience
  4. Better able to cope with unexpected challenges
  5. Less likely to suffer from depression
  6. Able to think more clearly, be more creative and productive
  7. Boosted immune system
  8. 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!
  9. Sleep helps you feel more alert (and when you’re driving your kids around that’s quite a big deal)
  10. 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.


And then the fun began...

12 thoughts on “Why skipping sleep is a false economy

  1. This is my life. I tell myself every night – literally every night, I write it down on my to-do list and everything – that I’m going to bed at 10 and then it’s 11:30 or midnight and I don’t even know how it happened. Well, yes I do. I made a hundred little choices to do “just one more thing” after my 10pm bedtime. Sometimes I think I should fix it so that the computer shuts off at 10pm so I don’t have to rely on my own puny willpower anymore!
    Jenny @ Unremarkable Files recently posted…Travel the World with Your Kids for Free This SummerMy Profile

  2. So so so true. I could do without about 8 but it’s usually around 7. I find when less I’m broken; crying,snapping and just a mess! You really have to make the effort to go to bed early as with so little precious time alone you want to stay up!! Xx #thetruthabout
    Sarah Howe recently posted…My husband the Human DustbinMy Profile

  3. Oh I can so relate to this – going to bed later and later, despite having promised myself an early night. I rarely turn my light off before midnight these days and spend every waking moment feeling tired. It’s become a bad habit now and I’m not sure if I would be able to change it. Kids rarely in bed before 10 pm doesn’t help the situation! Thanks for hosting as always 🙂 x
    suzanne3childrenandit recently posted…Unrequited LoveMy Profile

  4. Hooray a great post and I am a huge advocate of an early night. I am a naggy hopeless wreck if I don’t get enough sleep. Without a good 7-8 hours I can function but not ‘live’ my life to the full. I notice a huge difference in my mental attitude and my ability to tackle tasks. It makes me sad and moany…and that’s not good. Luckily my fella is a big early nighter so we go up at 10pm every night, read for a wee bit (to wind down nicely) then go to sleep for about 10.30/10.45. We are pretty boring but when I feel healthy and rested, life is just better so I don’t care 🙂 xx
    teacuptoria recently posted…To Have and To Hold?My Profile

  5. For months I wasn’t in bed much before 12, ever. But then, I realised that I just wasn’t functioning on any level, so I now stop ‘work’ by 8, enjoy some down time with my OH and try to be in bed by 10. Doesn’t happen every night, but I manage it most evenings and it’s made a huge difference. Hasn’t helped my stats (!) but it has made me a much happier person 🙂
    Sara | mumturnedmom recently posted…Childhood: a summer bucket listMy Profile

  6. Getting the right amount of sleep is so important and waking up naturally can make such a difference to your day. I regularly am in bed by 10 but still struggle to wake up for LM at 530/6! She has slept later a few times recently though and I must admit it has been bloody lovely to wake naturally rather than to the sound of tears!! Xx
    Caroline (Becoming a SAHM) recently posted…LM’s hairstyles at 8 mthsMy Profile

  7. We’ve just come out the other end where our three are now sleeping through reasonably well (although our bed still gets invaded most nights) so we can get an uninterrupted(ish) night’s sleep. (See, it DOES get better!) But I have to admit I’m terrible at sacrificing sleep, partly because I’m a night owl who does most of his best work when everyone else is asleep. I tend to get by on 5.5-6 hours’ sleep a night and maybe one night a week where I have what counts for me as a lie-in (6.5-7 hours). But if I don’t get that ‘bonus’ night, I definitely feel it for days afterwards! I’m just going to have to admit that I’m not 20-something any more and can’t just bounce out of bed after 3 hours’ sleep …
    Tim recently posted…Coming soon: Slouching towards Thatcham podcastMy Profile

    • Ooh I guess it’s all about the catch up sleep for you. I just don’t think I’d ever find the time for a catch up! And even in my 20s I couldn’t bounce out of bed on three hours sleep – you must have been Superman! 🙂

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