I admit it. I’m not getting enough.
I’m talking about sleep, and apparently I’m not alone. Ask just about anyone if they’re getting a good night’s sleep, and the answer is probably no. Whether it’s work, finances, children or our full schedules in general, sleep is the first thing to go when we’re busy.
I’ve always loved sleeping a good nine hours or so a night. My mother still tells stories in an awed voice of how, as a baby, I slept through the night from the time they brought me home from the hospital. How they had to wake me up to feed me. That tendency didn’t change over time, either. I napped until I was five. I was probably the only eight-year-old in history to actually ask to go to bed. And my teen years? I don’t really remember them because I was probably asleep.
That all changed seven years ago this week, when a certain nine pound, four ounce bundle of joy made his grand entrance into the world. Like most new parents, my husband and I were completely unprepared for how tired we would be. (Today, my husband says he now knows why other parents laughed when we said things like, “Oh, our cat wakes us up all the time,” or “I have to get up for work early anyway.” As any parent can tell you, it’s NOT the same thing at all!)
Those first six weeks of my son’s life were perhaps among the toughest of my own. As someone who loves sleep, I couldn’t comprehend this tiny creature who seemed determined not to sleep at all. Our family joke is that he was awake for the first six weeks of his life – only it’s not really a joke! He nursed around the clock, was fussy and just generally didn’t like sleep. Even today, at seven years old, he still hates to sleep. He’s up before the dawn most days; a fireball of energy that just won’t quit.
You’d think that by now, I’d finally be getting some more sleep. But of course, that just isn’t the case. We followed up our first son with our second son, which simply added more to our to-do list. With busy jobs, hockey practices, swimming lessons and our own hobbies, it seems like there just aren’t enough hours in the day – and there aren’t. Not enough hours to sleep, anyway.
Of course, there are plenty of reasons I should make sleep more of a priority. As a parent, being well-rested also means a greater ability to cope with the stresses children bring. As an employee, being well-rested means greater productivity. As a runner, sleep is an absolutely critical part of my training. I’ve got plenty of good reasons to sleep. I just don’t have the time!
But I’ve resolved I’m going to make the time to get a better night’s sleep. (And if you want to make the most of your slumber, don’t forget to check out our article “Are you getting enough?” this week on Primacy Life.) I’m going to get to bed at a reasonable hour, reduce distractions, and try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. These are all strategies sleep experts recommend, and this time, I’m going to listen.
Uh, right after I finish writing this blog. Oh, and cleaning up the dinner dishes. Oh yeah, and we’ve got hockey practice tonight. And… phew. I’m tired just thinking about it!
A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.