Mr. Sandman, Bring Me A Dream.
The cumulative effect of sleeplessness over a long period can negatively affect health. As a result, we must give sleep the same degree of priority as eating well and exercising. Yeah, right. Tell that to your 5 month old baby who is still nursing twice a night or your 3 year old who wakes up at least every other night with nightmares or your 4 year old that wets the bed twice a week. All that and a 9 am meeting you have to lead. We know.
You’ve heard it all these tips before: be consistent with your sleep routine; hit the sack around the same time every night; don’t have a television in your bedroom; paint the walls a soothing color and don’t eat three hours before you plan to turn in. But who has the time to redecorate their bedroom? Who is willing to give up the indulgent late night bowl of cereal or dish of ice cream? Certainly no one we know is willing to take TIVO out of their bedroom.
Perhaps we should just accept that in this phase of life true good nights of sleep are about as common as perfectly behaved children. As Ana Misiaszek Sarnoff simply states in her Newsweek article "I Do Know How She Does It," "[s]leep is a luxury for a working mom."
Those of us who are sleep deprived crave sleep as if it were a forbidden fruit. Indeed as Wendy Sachs says in her great book "How She Really Does It," "when given the option of a full night of delicious sleep versus a few minutes of passion and the possibility of an orgasm, I would bet my book deal that most women would choose sleep."
Do whatever you can to steal a few hours of sleep. Every once in a while, take an afternoon off work, leave your kids at daycare or with the nanny and go home and nap. Weekends away with your partner may have been about romance before you had kids. Not any more. We know tons of parents who leave their kids with grandparents or babysitters for a night or two a few times a year just to catch up on sleep. Sad perhaps but oh so true.
Then there are those like Bonnie Fuller, mother of four and celebrated magazine editor who says in her new book, "The Joys of Much Too Much," "[s]leeping isn't really a priority in my life - there are so many other things to do. I can catch up on sleep when I retire."
If you are the mother of young children and don't buy into Fuller's notion that sleep can wait until you are 65, remember that this too shall pass: teenagers sleep ‘til noon.