Parenthood May Mean Giving Up Good Sleep Forever

InsomniaHow'd you sleep last night? OK?

Or did you, like me, conk out, exhausted, around 10 p.m. only to have your eyes snap open at 3 a.m. as you thought to yourself, "Oh, darn! I forgot to respond to that playdate invitation! And shoot, did I send that work email? And argh, I haven't make that call I promised my mom I'd make"?

We anxious, night-waking, sleep-challenged mothers are not alone. Apparently, we are legion – and our sleep issues are more than fleeting.

"One of the cruel jokes of motherhood is that the sleeplessness of pregnancy, followed by the sleeplessness generated by an infant (a period in which a staggering — truly — 84 percent of women experience insomnia), is not followed by a makeup period of rest," Pamela Paul observes in an article in the New York Times. "It is merely the setup for what can become a permanent modus operandi."


Paul notes that prescription sleep aides just might be the proverbial "Mother's Little Helper" of our era. She fills her piece with confessions from mothers from all over the country who use everything from Ambien and Lunesta to Tylenol PM to simply a nighttime glass of wine to help them get a little shut-eye.

Me, I don't take anything to help me sleep, which is probably partly why I'm so chronically sleep deprived. I wake up in the wee hours thinking of all the things I need to get done. Sometimes I lie there stewing. Sometimes I just surrender, turn on the light, reach over to get the laptop that is never far from my grasp, and start ticking things off the to-do list.

The thing is, at a certain point, as Paul points out, sleep deprivation is one drawback of motherhood for which we cannot blame our kids.

Ultimately, we parents have to remember that we cannot spend every waking moment – and the moments we are meant to spend sleeping – taking care of our families. We have to take it upon ourselves to take care of ourselves, too -- and yes, that means unplugging from our concerns (not to mention our laptops and our smartphones) for long enough to get a little shut-eye and recharge our parental batteries.

We don’t only owe it to our families to be healthy and well rested. We owe it to ourselves (remember us?), too.

Are you chronically sleep deprived?


Image via Fairy Heart ♥/Flickr

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