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1 Super Serious Reason to Insist You Get More Sleep

Photo credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

I am not one to often eat my words. And I rarely, if ever, apologize. (Mr. Big(Ideas) can attest to what an attractive quality THAT is in a spouse.)

In my defense, I can only say that I believe this refusal-to-say-sorry is a genetic character flaw, because it is shared by my sister, who, like me, probably got it from my mother — the ABSOLUTE MASTER non-apologist in my life. This is a woman who once settled a NUCLEAR argument with me, in which she was ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT AND COMPLETELY in the wrong, by presenting me with a Navajo Indian bracelet and a pair of vintage Chanel sunglasses the following morning.

No “I’m sorry.” Just swag. (And yes, I do love those sunglasses.)

However. I heard something on the radio last week, while tooling around town, that has made me want to take back that thing I said about how you can mask your sleep deprivation and keep going going going without consequence.

According to Alon Y. Avidan, MD, associate professor of Neurology and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at UCLA’s Neurology Clinic, I was wrong.

Here’s what he said that’s got me so turned-around-and-upside-down:

The average adult REQUIRES 7-8 hours sleep at night.

Not “should get” 7-8 hours. We all know we SHOULD get more sleep.

Still, most of us think that’s not possible. I mean, between doing most of my work after the kids’ bedtime, and getting up at least once each night to walk Diddy back to bed (hello, Heading-to-kindergarten-panic? Will you please give me my AWESOME SLEEPER back?), I’m netting out somewhere between 3.5 and 6 hours of sleep a nightly basis.

I am not alone. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 Americans operates on less than 6 hours of sleep a night.

Clearly, this isn’t good for us. I’m aging at a frightening pace, at least according to my friend I-AM-SAHM’s Mom, who sees me twice a year at her granddaughter’s birthday parties and likes to tell me how TIRED I look, which we all know is just a passive-aggressive way to say OLD.

Unfortunately, there’s no turning-back-the-clock on that, either, because according to Dr. Avidan:

Every hour LOST from that optimal 7-8 hours per night requires a FULL 7-8 hours to make it up.

Which means I’m never, ever, ever getting those hours back.

But you know what’s way, way, way worse? Something even more serious than my vanity?!?

Dr. Avidan says:

Every hour lost from that nightly 7-8 hours has an effect on your body that is EQUIVALENT to drinking a 12-oz beer.

Now, we all know I like beer, and will use almost any excuse to drink it.

That said, I pride myself on NOT drinking when I have anything important to do, such as:

a) work,

or

b) drive my kids around.

Umm — wait: What do I do ALL DAY LONG?

Work and drive my kids around.

And this guy on NPR goes and tells me I’m doing that ON THE EQUIVALENT of between 2 and 4.5 beers a day!

Sure, maybe the work I do can handle a little buzz around the edges — I’m a writer, after all.

And sure, I joke about behaving like I’m drunk maybe being a salve to my stressed-out life, crazed kids, and maxed out (in a good way, people) marriage.

But you know what I absolutely REFUSE TO DO?

Drive my kids around in a state-of-not-rest equivalent to 4.5 beers!

TOTALLY NOT OKAY. So get me to a firm mattress and a fluffy comforter, STAT.

Now, I know if you have newborns who are depending on you to feed them all night long to ensure their basic survival, 7-8 hours of sleep each night is not the most realistic goal on earth.

That said, ladies — especially those of you attached to BOOBS you are using as MILK DELIVERY MECHANISMS:

If you’ve got someone around the house WHO CAN — and by that I mean, is PHYSICALLY ABLE — TO GET UP ONE OR TWO NIGHTS A WEEK with your kid(s) instead of you:

BUY A GOOD PUMP

and then

USE THIS BLOG POST TO GUILT THAT PERSON INTO IT.

Yes, you can do it all. Lord knows I always try to. But I shouldn’t. We shouldn’t. It’s not healthy, and it’s not safe.

This is also a great reason to sleep train as soon as your pediatrician gives you the okay. You need your sleep. (Your kid needs hers, too.)

And honestly, if you’re gonna feel drunk all the time, better you do the actual drinking. Drinking is usually FUN. Sleep-deprivation — not so much. That’s why governmental regimes use it as an instrument of torture.

I vote we Moms get more sleep and stop torturing ourselves.

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About Sarah Kate Levy

Once upon a time, I wanted to be a novelist living in New York City. Four kids later, I'm a blogger living in LA who writes about parenting, partnering, and the rise and fall of my family / my home / civilization. I'm also a I'm a screenwriter, most recently of the movie "No Way Jose." I live with my husband, kids, dog, cats, and a tank full of surprisingly resilient fish, and I take bedtime around here as seriously as I do my morning coffee. Which is to say: I AM NOT KIDDING AROUND ABOUT BEDTIME.

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