When the “to do” list gets overloaded (really, that’s always) what goes first? For most women, the answer is sleep. Rocking along on 5 hours? Whether it’s the kids or the tasks that are the sleep vampires, it’s time to join the one month sleep challenge.
Lots of attention has fired up in the past few months about the sleep-deprived state of our nation as a whole. (click here) Salon.com (click here) has accurately labeled this lack of sleep “a women’s issue.” Women are notorious for putting everyone and everything ahead of their own needs. This “last on the list, running on empty” lifestyle has been my target for a quarter of century, as adequate rest and sleep are key to my soapbox, basic self-care.
Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and Cindie Leive, Glamour magazine editor, have launched the challenge to women: get adequate sleep and rest for a month. Hurray, Arianna and Cindie!
Given my molasses-pace blog launch, we’ve napped through the first 15 days of the official challenge. Nevertheless, there is benefit still. Sleep experts say it takes 21 days to recover from sleep deprivation. So that’s the goal — let’s get good sleep for the next three weeks. The Huffington Post and Glamour offer specific tips on changing your sleep habits, if you need them.(click here)
For most women I know, simply saying “okay, I’m going to bed earlier for the next three weeks” might provoke a “who says?” response. We need new brain chatter to replace the inevitable guilt about tasks left undone in favor of sleep. So here’s your mantra: sleep makes it all work better. “IT” can be tasks, relationships, life. Just like multitasking, sleep deprivation makes us less efficient, less sharp. Think back to college –didn’t adequate sleep make that exam easier than pulling an all-nighter?
Forget any “should” about the challenge, e.g. “I should join in, all the experts say so.” Shoulds just bring more guilt. Revise the mantra in a way that works for you, then repeat it regularly. Write it down. Post it on your mirror, the edge of your monitor screen, or your steering wheel. Sleep makes me smarter. Sleep makes me kinder. Sleep makes me happier.
P.S. I know it’s cold and flu season. For you moms with tiny children who are importing every virus in the universe into your home on that teddy bear, 21 days of interrupted sleep may not be realistic this month. You may want to bookmark this page for when your kids are well again — May, for instance. Maybe I’ll issue a Mother’s Day reminder.