My toddler has been deeply asleep for two hours, and looks like he won’t need anything more than a lying-down, half-asleep feed between now and morning. So why am I writing a blog post instead of catching up on the sleep I missed last night when he was up every hour?
Because, like many parents, the few hours when he’s asleep and I’m not are prized and tagged for a million things I can’t do when he’s awake. Writing, reading, sometimes even housework. Facebook, for many of us, judging by the traffic in my news feed late at night in every time zone.
So here I am preaching what I seldom practise: get some more sleep, people! You’ll enjoy tomorrow so much more.
If you need a little more encouragement or information, you might like to check out some of these resources:
- my post with practical ideas for getting more rest, even as a parent
- a handout on the basics of ‘sleep hygiene,’ something most doctors give out regularly (and I did as a minister!)
- a Harvard Business Review article on the importance of sleep for high performance
- Gretchen Rubin, of the Happiness Project, is a big fan of sleep
- good old Wikipedia.
There are lots of reasons why parents of young kids might not get enough sleep, and I probably can’t help you with most of them. Your situation, if not unique, will be individual. But the one thing I can say right now that might help is that you very likely can choose, even just once a week, to go to bed when the kids go to bed and get a catch-up dose of sleep.
I know, I know, a) there are so many other things to be done and b) I don’t know the reasons why this is harder for you than it might sound. Both true.
Talk with a friend about how to get some more sleep in your particular circumstances. Do you need a babysitter during the day so you can nap? Or encouragement (even a phone call!) from a friend or partner to get off the internet and into bed at a reasonable time? Could someone even sleep over occasionally to help during the night?
What do you need? How can you make it happen? Whom can you ask to help?
I have a step-by-step plan for sleep-deprived parents here, if that might help you.
If there’s no way of getting more sleep, at least while your kids are so young (and parents of babies, yeah, I know, it may well be pie in the sky), then repeat to yourself: this too shall pass. And consider increasing your caffeine/chocolate/jazz/prayer/Facebook/exercise intake in the meantime in partial compensation.
As always, your ideas are welcome. Please add a comment below if you’ve got sleep tips or other ideas for making parenting easier.
And here’s Big Runga with Get Some Sleep. If nothing else works, just imagine you’re sleep-deprived because you’re a star on tour!