Goodnight, Mom…

by Lee Rose Emery

importance sleep healthThe evidence is there. Human beings great and small need a good night’s sleep. If we sleep 8-9 hours we function better. It is as simple as that.

We are healthier, we metabolize food better, we may even keep cancer and other serious health conditions away .

While much of my time as a busy mom has been focused on me worrying about my kids’ sleep: getting babies on a regular sleeping/feeding schedule, or to sleep through the night, or then figuring how to get my toddlers to nap, then weaning my toddlers away from naps in order to begin preschool. On and on it goes. Now my kids are older (9 and 11) and they don’t want to go to bed. There is too much to do, and early bedtimes seem to them to be for babies. Then my pals with teenagers say their teens can’t fall asleep until late because their brains peek around midnight, and again there is interesting research proving that.

All this is obsessing over kids and sleep, but in the midst of it all, I never once stopped to ask myself am I getting enough sleep? Can you guess what the answer is?

This summer I visited a naturopath. I told her my overall health was ok, but complained that I was tired. She asked me when I went to bed: late, midnight or later. (I have always been a night owl.) She asked me when I woke up: early, between six and seven. Then she looked me in the eye and said, “Do you feel rested?” What kind of a question is that for a Mom? Seriously? Of course not. Then she added, “What you’re telling me is that you’re not getting enough sleep,” she continued. “What would it take for you to get a really good long night’s sleep? To sleep late even?”

I pondered the question. It would take quite a lot of orchestration, between the kids the dog, the husband, work, and all of my other responsibilities. But it is possible. It could be possible. I have decided to make it possible. She suggested I go to bed only 15 minutes earlier at night, and to see the difference.

It is so easy for Moms be consumed with the needs of the family as opposed to taking care of ourselves. I am trying no give myself permission to sleep late, really late, if only one day a month. I am finding that when I can it is making a big difference in my overall sense of energy, health and well -being. Maybe you can’t sleep late one day a month, but even strategic napping can have great health benefits. One experiment proved that even “letting subjects nap for as little as 24 minutes improved their cognitive performance.”

So maybe tonight, once you finally get the kids tucked in, try turning off the light yourself. You may even find yourself waking up (somewhat) more rested. I imagine true rest happens for Moms when the youngest starts college. But until then, a little more shut eye may go a long way.

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