I think that among parents of young kids, if sleep were currency, we’d all be utterly poor. We’d be living rough, surrounded by our brood, hands held out in a bowl shape begging young, childless teenagers for 20 minutes of their sleep-stash.
We count our sleep as if it were money, too. When Sonny was a bit younger and woke up at 5.30 all the time, I’d add up on a calculator how many hours of broken sleep I’d had in total, and therefore, how many hours of non-knackered activity it might buy me during the day:
Bed at 10.30
Awake at 12.30 for early bottle = 2 hours
Awake at 1.45 because the dummy fell out= 45 minutes
Awake at 4.30 for toilet (me, not Sonny)= 2.5 hours
Awake at 5.30= 1 hour
Total broken sleep= 6 hours 15 minutes
6 hours and 15 minutes of interrupted sleep might be OK for some people- but not for me. I am a rubbish sleeper and have been for years. I wake up at least once every couple of hours, and also I sleep next to Ed- the man who snores so hard it’s a daily wonder that he’s got a larynx left.
IN my old life, pre Ed and Sonny, I would think nothing of sleeping from 10 or 11pm right through till 10 or 11am. Then getting up to mooch around for a bit, before going back to bed for a nap. Trying to get the perfect amount of sleep was like a fun hobby.
I admit that I’m a total sleep wimp. Whilst I have friends who can get by easily on 37 minutes per night, I’m not that girl and never have been. And I know I’m not the only sleep wimp.
So for all the people like me, who remember the good old days of 8 hours of uninterrupted sleeping gold, here are my 5 top tips to avoid being a Sleep Wimp and start feeling as active and refreshed as Usain Bolt.
Go to bed
Obvious? Apparently not. I base this research on non other than my long suffering guinea pig/husband, Ed. After a very early start, and an intense day at work, Ed will melt into the couch, eyelids half closed, skin as washed out as Glastonbury, and will try to convince me that he is ‘not tired’. I will leave him to ‘just finish watching this documentary on planets’ and Ed will be asleep within 2 Nano seconds, snoring within 4.
If Ed could just admit to himself that actually he is cream crackered and that as per usual wifey is right, he might not look so much like an extra from Night of the Living Dead.
The moral of the story? Don’t stay up to watch something pointless that you can just Sky plus anyway. Admit to yourself that you’re tired, that you’re a parent, and that you need sleep way more than you need to watch The Apprentice, and get thee to bed. My suggestion is that you should have lights out by 9.30, 10 at the absolute latest.
If you are one of these people who ‘doesn’t like breakfast’ then I don’t understand you, and no, we cannot be friends. You may as well tell me that eating 10 Krispy Kreme’s everyday will make me a more intelligent person; both conversations are as mad as each other.
Even if you are one of these oddities who doesn’t wake up to the growling emptiness of a stomach that needs sustenance, you should still force something down. I always always always feel better once I’ve glugged a pint of tea and half a loaf of toast. If you are tired, you have to get your energy from somewhere. Now is not the time to be focused on trimming the fat- if you’ve had minimum sleep, you need maximum carbs. My suggestion for a healthy, energy packed breakfast is 16 cups of tea, and a banana on toast. With butter. And honey. Just do it.
I heard somewhere recently that apples are better at keeping you awake than coffee. So now I eat a lot of apples. I don’t know if it’s the fact that it’s true, and they are working, or that it’s impossible for me to be asleep when I’m constantly crunching, but who cares- it works. Eat apples.
Don’t expect too much of yourself.
Following a really bad night, with little or no sleep, I feel drunk, itchy and like I might start crying at any point. So on days like this I try really hard to be kind to myself. If I’ve got a full, madly busy day at work, then I make sure I’ve got 6 million apples, a gallon of water and enough money for a bacon sandwich and a bit of cake. If I’d planned to cook a proper meal that night, I cancel that plan. If I’d planned to do anything social, I cancel that too. I’ll get through the day one hour at a time, and when Sonny goes to bed at 7.30ish, I will probably go too.
Don’t be scared of being tired
Unless you work for Google, or Nasa, people aren’t expecting you to solve the mysteries of the Universe. Remember that even people without kids know what it’s like to be utterly exhausted. I worked this out recently- I’m sometimes so scared of being tired, and falling asleep with my forehead on my keyboard, that the feeling of fear replaces the feeling of exhaustion. Which would you rather be, terrified or shattered? I would always opt for the latter.
Don’t forget that it’s only one day, you can get to bed earlier tonight, and in a few years time when the kids are all grown up, and you’re also a bit older, you’ll barely even remember this.
You’ll be too preoccupied with the pain in your joints and how they stop you from sleeping.
Till next time – Kelly x