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Monday Mom challenge: Get some sleep

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Rest for the weary

Sleep is vital to our health and well-being. Study after study shows this, and yet we don't need a study to tell us this. When we are well-rested, we are happier, healthier, more able to deal with stress, more able to focus on tasks, more efficient, better decision makers, better drivers, better employees, better spouses ...and better parents. We understand the importance of sleep for our children and insist they have healthy sleep habits. Why is it, then, that we don't insist on it for ourselves?

Rest for the weary

It's often a joke among moms, if not a competition: who is more tired, who is more exhausted. "I only got five hours of sleep last night," then, "I only got three." But it's no joke; sleep deprivation is a serious issue. As such, sleep needs to be a priority for our children as well as for ourselves. Sufficient shuteye is not just beauty sleep (though some studies say women who get enough sleep look younger), it's life sleep!

It does mean you

Moms work long hours. Being a mother is a 24/7 job - and that's in addition to any other responsibilities you may have. Mothers become used to operating on less sleep by necessity, starting when the baby is new - or even before during the discomfort of the last weeks of pregnancy. Over time, we come to appreciate what sleep we do get and sleep (usually) evens out to something approaching normal. But not quite.

Just because you are somewhat used to operating on less than the needed amount of sleep doesn't mean it's okay. Functional is not equivalent to optimal! Just because you can doesn't mean you should! And binge sleeping, while it can be lovely if the opportunity presents itself, isn't the answer, either. You need consistent regular sleep - as much as possible, anyway.

Making it happen

As with everything, getting appropriate rest is about prioritization. Commit to it and make it a priority. First, figure out when you absolutely have to get up in the morning, and count back eight hours. That is your target bedtime. Reorganize what you need to so that this bedtime can happen. Then, as you do with your children, establish a healthy bedtime ritual.

Try for a week to start - including the weekend. Just a week. At the end of that week you will have more energy. You'll feel better. You will.

Try it for another week, and then another. Soon you'll start to whittle down that wicked sleep debt and you'll wake up in the morning ready to go, not desperate to cling to the pillow. After a month, you'll be able to see the difference in the mirror and feel it on a day-to-day basis.

Sleep is no joke - most of us need more of it, and we need to work to get it. Commit to getting some real rest over the next month and you will improve your outlook, your energy, your creativity - your life - by simply closing your eyes.

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