Do you wake up refreshed and eager to start another day? Do you bounce out of bed with lots of energy moments after first opening your eyes? Yeah, neither do I.
My kids, on the other hand, usually do. While I struggle to open my eyes and get out of bed in the morning, my 4 year old and 2 year old are chipper and ready to go. It’s tempting to attribute this difference to their youthful vigor, but in truth I think there is a simpler explanation: they get enough sleep. They go to bed when they are tired and wake up when they are not tired anymore. How great would it be to wake up feeling rested and ready to go?
Parenthood is notorious for going hand in hand with sleep deprivation, but that doesn’t change the fact that sleep is incredibly important for both our physical and mental well-being. Studies show that cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and recovery from minor illness and infections are all linked to sleep. Sleep also improves our mood and patience — two areas in which most of us parents could use a little boost.
If you’d like to feel the way your kids do in the morning and have some extra patience to boot, I invite you to join me on a 3 day sleep challenge. Here are the rules:
1) Get completely ready for bed when your kids get ready for bed. That way, if you start to nod off during bedtime storybooks, you can go with it and fall asleep too.
2) Go to sleep when your kids go to sleep. Or earlier, if they can stay up on their own or with their other parent. Let those dishes sit in the sink. Let the laundry go unfolded. Let that Netflix show go unwatched. Let that ice cream go uneaten. These things will all be there for you another day. Get a FULL night of sleep for 3 nights.
3) If your kids go to bed very early, you can give yourself up to 2 hours after they go to bed to stay up. When my daughter first dropped her nap, she often slept 12+ hours at night. Ahhhhhhh. If you’re in this boat, thank your lucky stars and set your timer for 2 hours once that kiddo is asleep.
4) Avoid blue light in the hours before bedtime. More and more research shows that blue light interferes with sleep patterns. If you want to be online, use a laptop or other device with a program like f.lux installed. If you want to read, choose a book or an e-reader without a blue light background.
Here’s to waking up refreshed and ready to go!