Set down that third cup of coffee and take a moment to answer this: Are you getting enough sleep?
Anyone who knows me knows I’m the president of the “Sleep is overrated” club. A recent trip to the east coast for the She Speaks conference threw a monkey wrench in this outlook – I’m now tired 3 hours earlier than I used to be. And I’m still wanting to sleep until the same time each morning. Suddenly, after 7 years of life as mom (and the decade prior to that as an overachiever), I’m getting 8-9 hours of sleep a night.
The Earth has not ceased to rotate. My kids are still eating decent meals. My house looks the same. And I’ve lost no ground in writing or productivity. In fact, I’m actually getting more done than before the trip.
How can this be?
You’re Less YOU Without Adequate Sleep
We all know the negatives to sleeping less than we ought to. Brain fog, low immunity, more wrinkles, less patience, more mistakes, worse moods. You could list 10 more right here, I’m sure. But here’s the real kicker: when we don’t get enough sleep, all those cumulative negative effects limit who we are – our strengths, dreams, vision and impact in our families, work and ministry. Consider this question from a recent WebMD post:
“If you’re a chronically sleep-deprived mother, just how enjoyable and productive will your time awake be?”*
What Sleep Does For Your Waking Dreams
- Helps you think clearly. “Brain fog” (a.k.a. “mommy brain”) is real, and having the right amount of sleep reduces that neurological effect so you can focus on your life and goals.
- Boosts your moods through cycles of light sleep,** which comes after the deeper, REM dreaming at the beginning of sleep (i.e. after that initial 5 hours that most of us live on exclusively each day). A better mood leads to a more positive life outlook, which gives your dreams and goals a chance.
- Boosts your creativity. As you pursue your life-dreams and press into living your strengths, you’ll face challenges. Creativity makes those challenges more like speed bumps than roadblocks as your mind works through problems at a subconscious level.
What to Do About It
- Not stress out. Getting stressed out about not sleeping enough will make it hard to sleep when you can.
- Listen to your body. When you’re tired tonight after the kids go to sleep, take a good, hard look at what you need to get done for home and work… and do the top 2 things. Then go to bed.
- Limit light before bedtime. Artificial light tricks our bodies into thinking it’s still daytime, which makes it easy to not listen to our bodies.
- Take naps. Set a timer for 15-20 minutes (in the afternoon or part of the time your kids nap) and let yourself rest before you tackle the chores, bills or to-do list.
- Stay away from caffeine late in the afternoon or evening. Everyone’s body is different, so work with this one. For me, caffeine after 3:30 p.m. means I’m up all night.
- Commit to looking at your sleep habits, honestly, and to taking care of yourself. There are a thousand and one ways people recommend to improve and get more sleep, but ultimately, it’s about doing what helps you live your life fully in your strengths – making a difference in the world around you.
How are you doing with sleep these days?