by Jill Salzman
Sleep is not a hot topic. It gets discussed a lot when there is little of it, and it’s almost never heard of in classrooms or board rooms. It’s one of the fundamental ways to get work done and done well…but are you getting your 8+ hours?
I didn’t think so.
The average American should get eight or more hours of sleep per night. Only 20% of Americans are doing it right. Heck, the CDC declared “Insufficient Sleep Is A Public Health Epidemic” since lack of it has been linked to car crashes, industrial disasters and medical errors, among other things. Women, by the way, have twice as hard a time falling asleep as their male counterparts. So why bother trying?
I spent one year working in a sleep lab, and that year was a life-changer. It’s incredible how simple sleeping can be, but due to stress, work, and the kids, we working women have it pretty hard. But there are ways to cope. I promise.
Did you know that it’s all about routine? If you hit the hay at 2AM, that’s okay! Just hit the hay at that hour every night of the week. If you prefer 11PM, that’s just fine. But keep it to that hour every night of the week. You’re going to tell me that routine sleep is nearly impossible in your busy house, and that once the kids are down you get a lot of [pick one: work/relaxation] done (or you can simply get a good floor mattress and sleep in any other room which is quiet). And I’ll throw right back at you that routine sleep is a lot like working out — you must find the time and make it happen or you can excuse yourself into insomnia. Once you are sleeping at regular times each night, your body will eventually wake you up at the same time every day, and I can’t even begin to tell you how refreshed you will be. (Hint: so refreshed.)
Try to skip that wine late in the evening. Alcohol will help you dive into a nice, deep sleep, and then it will interrupt your circadian rhythms all night long. It’s The Great Disruptor when it comes to sleep. So if you’re drinking it to help you get through the night, drink again. Another time. Bloody Mary in the morning, anyone?
Take it to heart when someone bids you a “good night.” Really make it good. And by good, I mean make it unconscious for as long as your children will allow. You will thank yourself, especially if you wake up to a Bloody Mary.