“Get enough sleep” After nearly a year of parenthood, this bit of advice feels like a joke. I long for enough sleep, so much so that on the rare occasions (as in about 5 nights In the past year) where I have had 8 hours solid sleep, the next day I’m practically bouncing off the walls and foaming at the mouth.
It’s no news to me that sleep is akin to staying fresh and young. Since losing my precious sleep my eyesight has worsened a fair bit gaining me a slightly lazy left eye, permanent dark circles and eye bags and specs which I pretty much wear all the time as my eyes are tired. I look knackered, because I AM knackered.
On becoming a parent you are instantly engulfed in a world of sleep promises not too dissimilar to the quick fix promises of the diet industry.
Wander into any parenting section of a book shop and there is row after row of books promising parents the gift of sleep if they follow some programme devised to coerce your little one into some sort of adult circadian rhythm. I’ve tried most methods which all would lead to one of 2 results; either throwing the baby or the book in the bin. So the books have gone.
Luckily, 9 nights out of 10 our nights are now going undisturbed, it’s a good job because as you stand at the front door pressing the button on your car keyfob wandering why the door isn’t unlocking, you start to really question if you should be allowed out of the house at all. Even more so now I’m back at work.
So you would think early nights are something I can now enjoy again? I wish it was that easy, there are a few obstacles standing in the way of me and my lovely comfy bed.
The First is my house. It needs keeping on top of, so evenings include at least a few chores.
Then there are my chickens. I got pissed and answered a twitter appeal to find homes for ex battery hens. When I sobered up the next day I realised I had to follow it through. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Britney, Witney and Winehouse – they are my girls but they not quite sure what it is to be a chicken. I didn’t realise that chickens actually have a bedtime and when it goes dark, they take themselves off to bed. However, because mine are still learning the ways of the chicken, I have to go out at night with a torch gathering them up from where they have fallen asleep and putting them in their bed.
Lastly there is cutting out sugar, which means I have to bake my own bread and make my own yoghurt. If I don’t get the bread on as soon as I get in, I’m up until midnight wandering around in a daze waiting for the bread maker to beep.
When you have a few precious hours a day dedicated to doing exactly what you want to do (like writing a blog), bedtimes manage t get pushed back. But this has to change. So from now on I will be aiming to go to bed between 10 and 11 every night.
This article from the American sleep foundation talks about “Sleep Debt”, based on this I need to go to bed for a year. It also outlines steps to take for a healthier sleep pattern:
• Establish consistent sleep and wake schedules, even on weekends
• Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or listening to soothing music – begin an hour or more before the time you expect to fall asleep
• Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool
• Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
• Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex (keep "sleep stealers" out of the bedroom – avoid watching TV, using a computer or reading in bed)
• Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime
• Exercise regularly during the day or at least a few hours before bedtime
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol products close to bedtime and give up smoking
So I’ll be putting this into practice from now on and seeing what sort of difference it makes. Night all! x